RIT Ambulance

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RIT Ambulance
RITA Patch Colors.png
Motto: "Leadership through service"
Established 1981

117 Lomb Memorial Drive Rochester, NY 14623

(585) 475-2605
Jurisdiction RIT Main Campus
Ambulances 1
Fly-cars 1
President Daniel Hoffman
Chief Oren Cohn, EMT-B
Medical director Dr. Wendy Gelbard, MD
Website ambulance.rit.edu

RIT Ambulance (RITA) is a community run, 911 dispatched, volunteer collegiate New York State Certified Basic Life Support Ambulance Agency, run under the Rochester Institute of Technology Student Health Center. The ambulance serves the entire Rochester Institute of Technology campus.

RIT Ambulance provides coverage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week throughout the year. The ambulance is staffed on a volunteer basis by students, faculty, staff, and alumni.


Shortly after RIT's move from inner city Rochester to the existing campus in Henrietta, an old barn that was left on the purchased property caught fire and began to burn. Alpha Phi Omega (APO) brother Neil Gorfain roused his fellow APO brothers and began to direct traffic as emergency service personnel began to respond. Eventually, Student Housing was plagued by frequent fire alarms as the campus grew and matured. The evacuating students were often in the way of Pinkerton Security officers and each other. Consequently, after the barn incident, the Xi Zeta chapter of Alpha Phi Omega proposed adopting crowd control as one of their mandated services to the institute. Soon after, Student Housing consented to this plan. Whenever a fire alarm sounded, campus security would notify the on-call APO brother via room phone, who would rouse his brothers and move the crowd to a safe distance until the building was cleared. This band of Fraternity brothers were designated the Emergency Unit (EU).

In 1970, when the majority of the EU members were graduating, APO made the decision to open the organization to non-fraternity members. That same year, a student in hypoglycemic shock was found in the first floor of building 35 (Kate Gleason Hall). The Pinkerton Security officers, due to a lack of first aid training, restrained multiple students, an ambulance volunteer, and U.S. Army Medics trying to help. The student was saved with some quick thinking and a sugar shaker until Henrietta Ambulance was called to the scene. Following this incident, the restrained medics and ambulance volunteers decided to join the EU, where a significant change could be made on campus. The unit changed its credo to "No member of the RIT Community should lose their life due to ignorance or lack of training and experience on the part of others."[citation needed] A volunteer leader of the new unit was selected, and Student Housing withdrew their sponsorship, recognizing a change in the organization's objectives.

In the fall quarter of 1970, the group reconvened, and under the Medical Direction of Dr. Hugh H. Butler the group was given first aid kits once their training was complete. Dr. Butler agreed to aid the group in triage and case review. Due to the conflict in Vietnam, and the still fresh Kent state shooting, many departments on campus were opposed to such a "militaristic medical organization" on campus. As the matter of fact, student support for the organization was strong, and one evening hundreds of students disrupted a boardroom meeting in an anti-war protest, causing the board of trustees to shut the institute down for a week. Keith Taylor, President of the Student Association, was vehemently opposed to the EU, fearing the possibility that the organization rendering aid would result in death or other situations in which the institute would be liable. Nevertheless, Dr. Butler stood his ground for the agency, and Scott McLeod, VP of SA, gave a passionate speech that swayed many voting members. The Student Association advised adopting the name Student Safety Unit, following a passing vote of overwhelming margin. The RIT Student Safety Unit was created.

In the beginning, students were outfitted with over-sized blue and yellow windbreakers, yellow-rimmed flashlights, and first aid kits. In addition, Student Association did not provide any funding, so the members paid for their own uniforms. The unit was given an old panel van, Van #7, that was frequently out of service for repairs. When #7 was unavailable, a patrol car was used to retrieve students from hospitals following transport by Henrietta Ambulance. Eventually, however, as call volume climbed first from 10, to 15, to 100 in a year, agency members got into great shape, a natural consequence of having to sprint down the quarter-mile walkway for a medical emergency on the academic side of campus. In 1971, the agency acquired a member certified by the American Red Cross to conduct first aid training, meaning members did not have to be certified through Henrietta Ambulance. In the summer of 1972, SSU helped sandbag the Genesee River in preparation for Hurricane Agnes. That same year RIT purchased a Ford station wagon, made available to SSU, offering increased comfort, and reliability to students being transported. In 1973, the SSU received a new red van exclusively for SSU use. Fuel, repairs, and insurance were covered by administration. This vehicle did not have emergency lights, as most areas of campus were accessible very quickly. In the fall of 1974, SSU decided to make a commitment to provide 24/7 coverage to campus, with the number of EMTs in the organization approaching 50% in 1975. By the end of 1976, the number of calls SSU had provided assistance to was approaching 1,000.

In 1981, RIT's Student Safety team became a certified ambulance corps known as RIT Emergency Medical Unit.[1] A year later, in 1982, it was announced that non-emergency transportation would be discontinued. In 1983, the organization was renamed to RIT Ambulance.

For many years the RIT Ambulance Corps was only dispatched to emergencies by RIT Public Safety, but in 1993 RIT Ambulance became a Monroe County EMS subscriber. Subscription to the Monroe County system served to ensure that 9-1-1 calls on the RIT Campus would be appropriately routed to RIT Ambulance Corps rather than to Henrietta Ambulance.[citation needed]

Organizational structure[edit]

RIT Ambulance is governed by a constitution which defines two different organizational divisions. The Executive Board is the primary body for organizational oversight and personnel management. The Operations Staff is in charge of handling the day to day issues of the ambulance corps. The structure of these groups are listed below.

The Executive Board is elected by the membership. Positions are filled by election each April, and vacancies are filled by appointment, except in the case of President and Chief, in which case the Secretary and Deputy Chief which take over the respective positions. The only member of the Operations Staff that is directly elected by the membership is the Chief of Operations. The Chief is then responsible for appointing well qualified personnel to the Operations Staff, including the Deputy Chief, Captains, Training Director, and Equipment Director. Members then vote to ratify these appointments at the next monthly membership meeting.

Meetings are held for both bodies on a regular basis. As per the RIT Ambulance Constitution, the Executive Board is required to meet bi-weekly and the Operations Staff is required to meet monthly while classes are in session. General Membership Meetings are held once a month, usually the first Sunday, with exceptions being holidays or large campus wide events demanding a large amount of RIT Ambulance personnel. Each April, an Annual Membership Meeting is held, during which the new Executive Board is elected. The meetings are open to all that choose to attend except for small portions of closed discussion on private and sensitive issues, except for General Membership Meetings, which are open meetings by their nature.

Meeting of the Membership[edit]

The RIT Ambulance Constitution requires that a meeting of the membership must occur on a monthly basis, on the first Sunday of each month, except for holidays and campus events requiring Ambulance personnel. Meeting of the membership are headed by the Executive Board. The President of RITA acts as the presiding officer (with exceptions a called for in Robert's Rules of Order), and the Secretary assumes the role should the President be absent. During the meeting, official minutes are kept by the Secretary, and members are allowed to speak to the corps, and make motions as they wish. Standard procedure is followed as laid out in Robert's Rules of Order.

The current Executive Board is as follows:

Position Current Holder Date Elected
President Daniel Hoffman April 2, 2017
Chief of Operations Oren Cohn, EMT-B April 2, 2017
Secretary Mariah McIntyre, EMT-B October 1, 2017
Director of Public Relations John Chizmadia, EMT-B April 2, 2017
Recruitment and Retention Director Zhen Hummen, EMT-B April 2, 2017
Quartermaster Michael McGuinness Jr April 2, 2017

. * Indicates ratification via appointment by the President due to a vacancy in a position

The current Operations Staff is as follows:

Position Current Holder Monroe County Identifier
Chief of Operations Oren Cohn, EMT-B 6M13
Deputy Chief of Operations Donovan Reilly, EMT-B 6M23
Captain Knycos Ferguson, EMT-B 6M33
Captain Carl Sadowski, EMT-B 6M43
Captain Michael Lopez, EMT-B 6M53
Training Director Summer Pellechio, EMT-B 6M73
Equipment Director Jacob Wine 6M83


RIT Ambulance membership is open to RIT students, faculty and staff. While anyone can be a member, a great deal of training and commitment is required to become cleared in a position. Members who have cleared are assigned a 6Mxxx radio identifier and are allowed to work without a trainer on the ambulance or first response vehicle.


As of August 2014, RIT Ambulance no longer utilizes dedicated dispatchers due to a county wide change in EMS operating procedures. All dispatch duties are now handled by the individual unit assigned to a call. RIT Ambulance members work in at least one of several areas:[2]


Observers are basic members of the RIT Ambulance corps. Observers receive blood borne pathogen training and are certified in basic CPR. Observers are typically new members working on qualifications in another area.


Drivers are responsible for safely operating the ambulance in both emergency and non-emergency capacities. Drivers drive to the scene, assist with patient care, and transports to the hospital.


Medics are directly responsible for patient care. Medics must be certified as an EMT Basic in New York before being allowed to provide patient care.

Command Officer

Command Officers, or COs, are responsible for handling any operational issues during their shift. The CO also responds to calls meeting specific criteria including: more than one ambulance is responding or when triage is required, HAZMAT incidents, confirmed structure fire(s) on campus, motor vehicle accident with reported people trapped, vehicle overturned, or RIT Ambulance vehicle involved. A CO may also respond to any RIT Ambulance call at his or her discretion, but will not engage in patient care unless requested to do so or under extreme circumstances.


Members must work through various stages of qualification, with each stage having additional training and added responsibility. Typically, a member would progress through the following stages:[2]

Training Stages

Trainees are currently completing training, and may act under the supervision of a trainer on responses.


Apprentices have completed all required training, but have not yet participated in enough responses or had enough experience to be recognized by the Operations Staff. A member in the Apprentice position can make a full crew with another person who is fully cleared in both their position, and the apprentices position, although that member does not need to be a trainer. The Command Officer position does not have an apprentice stage.


Cleared members have completed all training, and are approved to operate autonomously.


Trainers are qualified members, often with experience from outside of the RIT Ambulance, who instruct RITA members on operations and conduct training sessions.


RIT Ambulance operates two emergency vehicles

Name Year Vehicle Info Unit Type
6359 2013 American Emergency Vehicles E-450 TraumaHawk Transport Ambulance
Defib 63 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe First Response Vehicle

Both vehicles carry a variety of medical supplies and equipment including oxygen, defibrillators, albuterol, aspirin, naloxone, and epinephrine which allow life saving response to emergencies.

Relations with other emergency organizations[edit]

RIT Ambulance receives its right to function from the New York State Department of Health, the Rochester Institute of Technology, and the RIT Student Health Center.[3]

RIT Ambulance responds to all medical emergencies on RIT's campus. RIT Ambulance may also respond to calls off the RIT campus if the need arises, as determined by the Monroe County Emergency Communications Department (ECD.) RIT Ambulance is also a member of the National Collegiate Emergency Medical Services Foundation.[4]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "History". Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Standard Operating Procedures" (PDF). 
  3. ^ "History". Retrieved 1 April 2009. 
  4. ^ "NCEMSF Member Listing". Retrieved 18 August 2015.