Six student members of SUNY Cortland’s Emergency Medical Services jumped into action early Saturday morning in the wake of a devastating flood that destroyed hundreds of homes and displaced thousands of people in and around Binghamton, N.Y. They worked for 30 consecutive hours at the Binghamton University Events Center, where a makeshift hospital was set up for more than 800 critical patients.
The students, who departed for Binghamton at 4:30 a.m. Saturday, included Austin Glickman, of Long Beach, N.Y.; Matthew Green, of Commack, N.Y.; Sean Jolliff, of Copenhagen, N.Y.; Rebecca Schwartzman, of Katonah, N.Y.; Katharine Warszycki, of Huntington, N.Y.; and Alexander Watkins, of East Syracuse, N.Y. They helped rescue crews from the American Red Cross, the National Guard and other SUNY institutions look after more than 2,000 evacuees.
Glickman, a campus emergency medical technician for close to three years, said the group transported critical patients from local hospitals to the Events Center, aided sick or wounded evacuees and tended to emergencies that occurred on Binghamton University’s campus Saturday night.
By Sunday evening, 600 evacuees remained in the Events Center.
From a podium outside of Corey Union at SUNY Cortland’s remembrance of the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on Sunday night, Glickman thanked campus rescue members who worked through the weekend on the College’s campus.
“None of this could have been possible if it wasn’t for the dedication of other campus rescue members who vowed to stay on our own SUNY Cortland campus the entire weekend, to respond to our own emergency calls and cover multiple standby sporting events,” Glickman said. “Some of us have yet to sleep in the past 48 hours.”
SUNY Cortland’s Emergency Medical Services is a non-transporting agency, meaning that it does not provide transportation to hospitals, and is staffed by student volunteers 24 hours a day, seven days a week while classes are in session. Its student volunteers are highly qualified in basic life support skills and there is at least one certified New York state emergency medical technician with each crew at all times.
Glickman said it was not a coincidence that the College’s campus rescue crew answered a call for service near the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. He grew up 30 miles away from where the World Trade Center once stood and has served as a volunteer firefighter for four years.
“As Sunday morning rolled around, knowing it was Sept. 11, it felt right knowing that we were helping others,” he said.
He praised all emergency services personnel for deeds big and small, whether they involve life-saving rescues or disaster relief. And he noted the connection many emergency personnel feel with the first responders who perished in the World Trade Center in the wake of the attacks.
“That could be us someday, running into a burning building or treating wounded people without even thinking twice about our own safety,” he said. “We do it because we love to help others."