The Sewanee Volunteer Fire Department and Sewanee Emergency Medical Services recently held tryouts for students interested in making this commitment to the community. Five first-years students were accepted as EMTs (Sydney Phillpot, Nate Foster, Andy Streiff, Nakeirah Christie, and Seth Burns), and five more joined the ranks of firefighters (Thomas Walters, Rory Devine, Penn Jenks, Sloan Taylor, and Ben Yunker). Congratulations—and thank you—to these students for becoming a part of a long Sewanee tradition.
Sewanee Emergency Medical Services is Tennessee’s only student-run, volunteer EMS service. Becoming a Sewanee EMT is a year-long endeavor beginning with application to take the Tennessee-accredited EMT course (eight hours weekly for two semesters). The tryouts held recently occur halfway through the course’s second semester. Once accepted as a member of the Sewanee EMS team, EMTs must become officially certified by taking a National Registry Exam. Upon successful completion of this exam, freshmen EMTs are fully able to serve the Sewanee community. Next year, Sewanee EMS will have 12 members.
It is not uncommon for colleges to have students who serve as first responders, but few schools have a fully-functioning EMS service like Sewanee’s. Sewanee EMTs handle calls ranging from broken bones to cardiac arrests. Many of the current EMTs have an interest in medicine or the sciences, but a desire to pursue medicine after graduating is not required. Students often try out for the program because of their desire to serve the community. Senior EMT Joyce Kuik says that being an EMT has wonderfully supplemented her Sewanee education.
The Sewanee Volunteer Fire Department tryout process marks the conclusion of a six-week training course open to all interested freshmen and taught by the SVFD’s student training officer. During this course, freshmen men and women are prepared to serve the community by learning about fire and fire protection. Following the grueling interview and tryout process, students selected to be firemen make a three-year commitment to serve Sewanee. They are subject to being on-call every day, with the exception of one weekend night.
Firefighters are responsible for fire protection in Sewanee and the surrounding area, and they also provide mutual aid to neighboring towns. In addition, student and community firemen conduct high angle rescues, land searches, and vehicle extrications. Because the fire department includes 18 students and many more community members, the experience allows students to work with their community instead of for their community. One senior firefighter explained, “I have principle in Sewanee, and I’m that much more interested in seeing how it grows and develops.”