B.U. Bridge is published by the Boston University Office of University Relations.
On the front line of BU's emergency training: Ray Levy
By Hope Green
Raymond Levy found his calling amid the wail of sirens and flash of emergency lights. Thinking he might pursue a career in medicine, he joined his hometown volunteer rescue squad in Marlboro, N.J., at 15 and earned his state EMT license the following year.
By the time he finished high school, Levy had assisted mothers in labor, elderly heart patients, and dozens of car accident victims.
"I just kind of got hooked on emergency medical service," he says. "It taught me a lot about maturity and teamwork, and caring for other people."
At 25, Levy (SAR'98, SPH'01) is still hooked. In his full-time job, he coordinates emergency medical services and training programs in BU's Department of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (PERD). On Sundays, he works for a Boston ambulance company.
"When you work on an ambulance, no two days are the same,"
he says. "You don't know if you're going to bandage a stubbed toe,
do CPR on four people, or deliver a baby. Some EMTs are kind of adrenaline
junkies and I think I felt that early on, but that's kind
On call, courtside
PERD maintains an on-premises first-aid service for Terrier teams and recreation programs, an amenity that is somewhat unusual for a college campus. Graduate and undergraduate students certified as EMTs are stationed at BU's three gymnasiums, Sargent, Case, and the Shed. They also accompany teams to all their games and practices, and cover large University functions, such as Commencement and last semester's Bob Dylan concert.
Levy joined the first-aid group as a freshman, impressing Warin Dexter, PERD's director, with his leadership talents and community service. Two years later, his academic career hit a crisis: his student debts topped $34,000, and he was considering full-time work off campus. Not wanting to lose a star worker, Dexter put him in charge of the department's EMTs. When Levy graduated from Sargent in 1998, his job was upgraded to coordinator, and now he oversees a number of managers and trainers.
"We were at the point where we needed to expand our supervision
and our education program," says Dexter, who started the safety services
division of PERD in 1973 with help from the American Red Cross and nurses
from local hospitals. "More than any staff person I've ever had,
Ray has been the catalyst to bring some of my thoughts and hopes to fruition."
In the past, PERD offered classes in basic first aid and CPR. Two years ago, Levy added the 132-hour, 2-credit EMT course and 30 students immediately signed up. The course remains popular, especially among premed students seeking practical experience. Levy notes with pride that his students have a 95 percent passing rate on the state certification test.
Most of the EMT trainees are women. As Levy points out, bodybuilding is not a prerequisite. "Lifting people and moving them around is only part of the job," he says. "It's more important that you know how to care for the patient."
The expanded course lineup at PERD also caters to EMTs looking to upgrade their skills. One recent workshop featured a mock mass-casualty incident at Case, where students had to perform triage for some volunteer victims made up with fake blood. This month, a member of Levy's staff is arranging a demonstration by MedFlight, a critical-care helicopter service, at Nickerson Field (details follow).
Courses in wilderness first aid and sport safety also draw a crowd. Levy has even considered adding a pet first-aid class. The American Red Cross actually has a book on the subject. "The sky's the limit," Levy says. "The classes will never get stagnant because there's always something new to teach."
A more ambitious plan is to establish a paramedic certificate program at BU, which would give participants clinical time on ambulances and at Boston Medical Center. Although other schools offer training in the suburbs, this would be the first college- or university-based paramedic program available in Boston.
Hiring from within
But Levy already has achieved a great deal in his coordinator's position. On his watch, PERD has trained 200 EMTs, yielding a ready talent pool for the first-aid stations.
"Most of the injuries we see aren't serious, thankfully," Levy says. "But the student athletes are appreciative that instead of holding a napkin over a cut while they're playing or having to sit out a game, they can go downstairs and get ice or have a wound cleaned out and bandaged. Not many universities have that sort of service.
"I hire only people who really enjoy the job," he adds. "I've had a lot of technical people who are very skilled, but when it comes down to it, patients also want somebody there who cares about them. That's what I look for in my staff."
PERD courses are open to the campus community. One-day workshops in first aid and CPR can be arranged for office groups. For more information, contact Ray Levy at 353-8032, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Weather permitting, the MedFlight demonstration and class will be held Friday, January 26, at Nickerson Field, from 4 to 7 p.m. For EMTs who want to receive continuing-education credits and are not on staff at PERD, the fee is $25. All other interested parties are welcome to attend free of charge. For more information, contact either Levy or Raymond Jean, EMS supervisor, at 353-8032.