Below is a guest post from Nezar Mehanna, one of the five students working with local community organizations this year as a part of the Upstate Institute and COVE Community-Based Work Study program:
Currently at SOMAC I am working with the director of operations, Kyle Sylvester, and members of the board to implement a new policy manual to replace the current version. Working through each section and policy gave me great insight into what it means to run an ambulance organization. Flipping through New York State Department of Health laws and reading about the current standards in emergency medicine, such as the controlled substances in each vehicle or proper procedure when attempting rescue operations made me appreciate the responsibilities paramedics in the community take on. My other projects for SOMAC include updating the company’s website, designing the decals that were placed on the new paramedic fly car unit 511, and researching and submitting grant proposals as a part of SOMAC’s capital improvement plan as the organization is working to get the newest life-saving medical equipment for the Hamilton Community.
Becoming a part of the SOMAC team has been an incredible experience and I am amazed at the work of EMTs and Firefighters in town. Not to mention the commitment of so many Colgate students who spend their time down at SOMAC headquarters volunteering their time to give back to their community. Central New York has a unique geography with a multiple of small towns clustered within each county. A majority of these towns rely on volunteer ambulance companies and the mutual aid system in place to make sure local ambulance corps. work together so no patient is ever left behind in times of emergency is tremendous. There can be no mistakes or delays when a person’s life is on the line so even though SOMAC and others may be primarily volunteer organizations the dedication and diligence of its members are first rate. There are probably Colgate students you see on campus frequently that are dedicating large hours of their time every week to serve the community, working at SOMAC has made grateful that we have these members of student body looking out for all of us.
While my clerical responsibilities such as writing polices and working on the website have honed my writing and technical skills while giving me the opportunity to work with professionals and benefit from their input, I also have learned a great deal about the healthcare system, common medical issues, and the people of Hamilton just by observing the daily operations each day from my desk. The older paramedics have some stories to share as they have been active members of this community for a long time. The organization and cooperation between EMTs, the sheriff’s office, and firefighter department to support the local community is remarkable. The meetings to discuss preparations for Joe Biden’s talk by themselves have been extremely interesting to listen in on.
I often work alongside the director of operations, Kyle Sylvester, in his office at SOMAC headquarters downtown. Each day usually begins with me setting up at the desk and then heading to the garage to in search of Kyle. I usually find him under the bed of the truck cranking away with a wrench or on top of the ambulance prying at the lights with a pair of pliers. SOMAC is always maintaining or upgrading their equipment and vehicles. Learning about how emergency medical services operate has been a real joy but an added benefit of the position has been the mechanical knowledge I’ve picked up while in the garage. Kyle even helped me fix my car when the check engine light came on one day.
My interest in healthcare is what first drew me to a SOMAC, I had a few friends who had already passed training and volunteered as EMTs down at the station. I became interested in community work after my previous summer internship where I worked for a non-profit helping New Yorkers sign up for health insurance. I felt a great sense of fulfillment in that position and I was eager to use those skills for a similar position while on campus. SOMAC is an invaluable institution to the Hamilton community and I was excited at the opportunity to be able to assist the organization in any way I could so they could spend more time focusing on giving patients the care they deserve.