Orientation | Sep. 4 10:52 pm EST

Flashing lights, lights, lights

Bob Vulfov/Spec

As far as you’re concerned, nothing happened. You woke up in a West Village dumpster hand-cuffed to an old refrigerator. So what? It’s college.

Popular culture tends to extol our accounts of blackouts, broken bottles, and bro-cially acceptable exploits. As 2009 as it is, Texts From Last Night is a perfect example of that norm. What often gets lost in the fray of snapped high heels and Sharpie forehead penises is the work of student-operated volunteer ambulance corps.

At Columbia, the Columbia University Emergency Medical Service, CU-EMS (formerly known as CAVA) is in charge of keeping you safe after you play a casual game of Edward Fortyhands. Alone. On a Tuesday.

We sat down with Dan Lynn CC ’13, a crew chief with CU-EMS, to talk about the daily responsibilities he and his staff assume. As a crew chief, Dan is on call for over 40 hours per week. That’s pretty much two full REM cycles per night he’s missing out on, Dan notes, as he cracks open his third Red Bull of the conversation. From time to time, Dan and CU-EMS respond to serious cases such as respiratory and cardiac arrests, critical fevers, and strokes. Sometimes all at the same time. That’s what’s known as “The Bacchanal Weekend.”

CU-EMS is run entirely by Columbia University students, many of whom are juggling demanding pre-med schedules. To apply for a position with CU-EMS, students must be EMT-certified, or they must excel in a semester-long course offered by the organization.

Once part of CU-EMS, volunteers like Dan become part of a well-oiled machine that answers emergency calls 24-hours per day, seven days per week. Often, these students have to respond to calls in the middle of lectures, naps, and first dates. This is the fifth time we’ve tried to sit down with Dan. The first four were thwarted by his always-present two-way radio pulling him away to respond to emergencies. Or maybe he just doesn’t like us.

So next time you play the drinking game where you take a shot every time the current day ends in the letter “y,” or the next time you eat at Roti-Roll and Koronet’s in the same night, keep in mind that these Spartan-like pre-med students deal with more than alcohol and food poisoning. If you ever need them, they’ll be there. Like Batman, but without that dumb growl Christian Bale does in The Dark Knight. To contact CU-EMS, dial 99 from any campus phone or (212) 854-5555 from your cell phone.




  1. looool • September 5, 2011 at 12:13 am • Reply

    “CU-EMS (formerly known as CAVA) is in charge of keeping you safe after you play a casual game of Edward Fortyhands. Alone. On a Tuesday.”

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  2. I would climb that guy • September 5, 2011 at 1:29 am • Reply

    like a tree.

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    Rating: +1 (from 3 votes)

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