Bates Emergency Medical Services (EMS) was founded in the 1995-1996 academic year by David Kingdon '98. Kingdon and friends recognized a two-fold need. First, as a large and complex residential institution, the college would benefit from rapid EMS response. Secondly, involvement in local and regional emergency services would give Bates students vital experience with and appreciation of the larger community that surrounded them.
Before launching the service, support was received from the school administration, the local healthcare and public safety community. With this groundwork in place, Bates EMS secured designation as an approved college student-activity, as well obtaining a license as a non-transporting emergency medical service with the State of Maine. In its initial months, fewer than six students who had come to college with previous Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification shared 24-hour shifts. They carried two-way radios and packs with comprehensive medical and trauma care equipment. To boost student membership, the EMS team coordinated a semester-long EMT class taught by local paramedics. In addition to classroom instruction, the students completed rotations on local paramedic ambulances, and in area hospital Emergency Departments. The class was a resounding success, and has been repeated annually ever since.
The positive impact of Bates EMS was felt on and around campus, almost immediately after its inception. EMTs were able to quickly reach patients on and around the campus, provide assessment, treatment, and transfer care to local paramedics if necessary. Call volume was modest at first, but the nature of calls during the first year ranged from diabetic emergencies to multi-systems trauma to cardiac arrest. Within two years, the Bates EMS roster grew to over 40 EMTs, and its call volume exceeded 100 calls annually. The group adopted a more formal structure, with a governing constitution, democratic voting from its general membership, and leadership by a group of departmental officers.
Today Bates EMS is one of the largest state-licensed volunteer services in Maine. There are approximately 30 active members within the service licensed at the EMT-Basic level. Bates EMS operates 24 hours a day during the regular academic year. Currently, three EMT's are on call during the regular 24-hour shift. Two responders carry hip packs that contain essential items during the first 5 minutes of a call. The third responder drives the EMS van and arrives on scene with the primary jump bag in addition to other necessary BLS equipment.