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National Emergency Medical Services Week With AEMS Team of UCI Student EMTs

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National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week, observed this year from May 15-21, honors medical first responders in the United States. The celebration includes commemorating the contributions of UCI’s own Anteater Emergency Medical Services (AEMS) organization. 

“AEMS is a group of undergraduate [Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs)] who offer medical services to the campus … and pursue community education programs,” 2019 AEMS President Paul Bhatia said in an interview with Anteater TV

According to the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, EMT basics are trained in basic life support (BLS) to stabilize and safely transport patients in non-emergency and life threatening emergencies.

“You have to be calm under pressure, you have to make sure you’re providing the best care for your patient,” licensed EMT and fourth year biological sciences student Sana Mirza said.

This student-run EMS organization has been serving the UCI community since 2017. Prior to COVID-19, AEMS was involved in hands-on volunteer work such as building the field hospital set up by the UCI Medical Center. Additionally, AEMS has worked on standby at concerts, sports and other UCI events that would require BLS from an EMT. Since COVID-19, AEMS has shifted focus to educational endeavors within the campus community. 

Licensed Undergraduate EMTs teaching their fellow UCI community members about hemorrhage control. Photo courtesy of Sana Mirza.

In response to the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, AEMS created the Stop the Bleed campaign, which provides a free certification course at 6 p.m. every Thursday evening. During this class, licensed EMT students demonstrate how to stop a life-threatening bleed through wound packing, direct pressure and tourniquet use.

“A lot of people have become certified as a result of our class,” Mirza said. 

In fact, since 2017 AEMS has taught more than 600 students, staff and other community members.

AEMS simulating real life emergency scenarios with licensed UCI student EMTs. Courtesy of Sana Mirza.

Due to the unpredictability in the field of EMS, EMTs are required to go through a rigorous process when attaining their license. According to the California Emergency Medical Services, aspiring EMTs must “complete an approved training program, pass the National Registry (NREMT) cognitive and psychomotor (relationship between cognitive functions and physical skills) examinations and apply for certification at a local EMS agency.” 

“EMS is an extremely stressful field … it takes a toll on all aspects[of life], whether it’s mental, physical and emotional health,” Mirza said. “AEMS’ services are not merely limited to UCI; this team of undergraduate EMTs branches out to provide care and extend their EMT education into [the Irvine] community, whether that be Orange County or local high schools.” 

Recruitment cycles for AEMS occur every fall and spring, welcoming both general members and certified EMTs. The organization’s EMTs, who are licensed and certified by the state, attend AEMS clinical workshops to prepare and train for a 10 week course to become an active EMT for AEMS. However, AEMS is also open to general members who are interested in the EMS field as well. 

“It is daunting. It may take time. There’s a lot of certifications involved, but it is the most meaningful and worthwhile thing you will do as a young person,” Mirza said.

To learn more about the AEMS organization, visit their website here.

Natalie Ringdahl is a STEM Intern for the spring 2022 quarter. She can be reached at