Geneseo First Response members Samantha Dorn '20, crew chief; Ethan Nagasing '20, chief of operations. (Image provided)
Many things students learn at college are largely academic. Others are extremely practical. Some are life-saving.
Ethan Nagasing ’20, a chemistry major at SUNY Geneseo, is the chief of operations of Geneseo First Response (GFR). GFR is a student-run, volunteer organization that provides emergency medical services (EMS) to the Geneseo campus community and is an accredited New York State emergency medical services provider.
Earlier this month, EMS agencies in Rockland County, NY, contacted GFR and other collegiate EMS teams in New York State asking for volunteers to assist them as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the downstate area.
Nagasing, along with fellow GFR EMTs Samantha Dorn ’20 (Rock Hill, NY), Adam Hansen ’20 (Ballston Lake, NY), and Matthew Shin ’22 (Hastings-on-Hudson, NY), answered the call. Former GFR Chief Justen Geddes ’18 (Dryden, NY), who is currently enrolled in a mathematics doctoral program at North Carolina State University, joined the efforts and is now driving ambulances and getting his EMT credentials reinstated.
For the past several weeks Geneseo’s student responders have been living at Stony Point Volunteer Ambulance Corps while filling in shifts for Stony Point, Haverstraw Ambulance, and New City Ambulance.
“While we may have answered the call for help, we are extremely grateful for the level of hospitality that we have received upon arrival to Stony Point,” Nagasing says. “Since the day we arrived, community members have sent us meals—we have been well fed—and we’ve been given comfortable living quarters, as well.”
Read more about the SUNY colligate EMT groups assisting with COVID response in the Rockland/Westchester Journal News.
Leading by example
“I was always interested in ambulances when I was little,” Nagasing says. “A lot of people grow out of that, but I didn’t!”
When Nagasing would visit Geneseo to see his older brother, Ben Nagasing ’14, he’d sometimes see the GFR group in action and be interested. As he was setting off for his freshman year, his mother suggested that GFR “would be a good fit” for him.
Nagasing applied as a freshman and says he feels lucky to have gotten in, because selection is competitive. Applicants must be in good academic standing and, once accepted, must complete a significant amount of training, learning to take vital signs and respond to different emergency scenarios. Within a year of joining GFR, accepted applicants become New York State emergency medical technicians (EMTs).
“You learn hands-on skills you use in the field,” Nagasing says. “And it’s a lot of fun, and you make good friends.”
Squad members build strong relationships, partly because the people who want to be in GFR are astonishing, Nagasing says. “They’re busy people who are doing a ton of other things, but they want to help others.” Nagasing reports that his days are better because he’s always having meaningful interactions with other squad members. “The people in GFR have been the highlight of my time at Geneseo.”
Respecting and liking his squad as much as he does, Nagasing considers it an honor to be their chief of operations—a possibility he had never considered until the previous chief, George Zenzerovich ’19, encouraged him. “George showed me that the more I put into the agency, the more I got out of it,” Nagasing said.
The role involves being on call a minimum of 144 hours per semester. In addition to tending to various administrative matters, Nagasing spends time in the squad room to maintain solidarity with his teammates.
That time spent together aids in communication, which is crucial in emergency situations. “Something I’ve learned as chief is how important it is to be direct with people,” Nagasing says.
Another quality Nagasing is developing is empathy, which, he says, “is something everyone needs to learn.”
These are life skills that can be applied in any field. Nagasing, who will be starting a PhD program in material science and engineering in the fall, says he’s sure the skills he has learned in GFR will benefit him in many other contexts.
“Being in GFR has made me into the person I am and taught me so many lessons,” he says. “If that’s what someone is looking for, GFR is a great place to start!”