National group names URI student ‘Collegiate EMS Provider of the Year’

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Commander of URI’s Emergency Medical Services

cited for organizational leadership

KINGSTON, R.I. – April 30 2008 – It’s hard to miss Shad Ahmed when he is on duty as the commander of the University of Rhode Island’s student-run Emergency Medical Services.

His uniform’s brilliant white shirt and crisp blue trousers signal to an observer that he is ready, fully prepared and efficient, all necessary virtues in an emergency. The National Collegiate Emergency Medical Services Foundation found it hard to overlook the URI graduate student as well.

It named him the Collegiate EMS Provider of the Year, 2007-2008, for organizational leadership. He was the only one in the nation to receive such an honor from the foundation. The University’s EMS is one of 200 college services nationally and one of 50 that provide full ambulance transport and 911 service.

Ahmed oversees 75 volunteers, nearly all of them students. The minimum level of training is EMT-Basic, which requires 150 hours of training. Several volunteers are trained at the EMT-Cardiac level, which requires the 150 hours of basic training and 200 hours of cardiac training and EMT-Paramedic, which requires either basic or cardiac training and another 1,100 hours of training. The volunteers can use defibrillators in the event of a patient’s cardiac arrest and administer drugs based on the situation.

The Warwick resident, who is on the verge of completing his master’s degree in business administration, began volunteering with the service in 2000 as a freshman math student at URI. He has been the service’s commander for the past four years.

“This award just emphasizes to me that all of our hard work and sacrifices have been worth it,” Ahmed said. “Much of the credit goes to the University for taking many steps to improve our resources, and now we are ahead of most universities, towns and cities.”

Thomas R. Dougan, vice president for Student Affairs, said Ahmed provides outstanding leadership to a group of students who provide emergency medical services to students, faculty and staff and surrounding communities. “People seem to forget that these are full-time students serving a community of about 20,000,” Dougan said.

Ahmed, who may pursue a doctorate in nonprofit organizational research, is looking into a career in research and consulting. But he is sure that he will also continue in the EMS arena. “In some way, shape or form, this will always be a part of my life,” he said.

Chad Henderson, director of URI’s Health Services, which oversees campus Emergency Medical Services, said Ahmed has been instrumental in significantly improving the quality and reputation of the program. “His accomplishments include campaigning for and overseeing the construction of and transition to a new $1.4 million headquarters building,” Henderson said. “He won approval for a new ambulance and secured more than $50,000 in grants for a communications system.”

Under his direction, URI EMS shifted to a year-round model, Henderson said. “Even after having implemented stricter standards and extensive training programs, we stand as one of the only all-volunteer services in our area that staffs a full crew in addition to a shift supervisor 24 hours per day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Henderson said.

The service now responds to close to 1,000 calls per year and provides coverage for 250 special events annually. URI EMS also provides mutual aide to local communities like South Kingstown, Narragansett, Exeter and others.

Ahmed has also been trained by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as an Incident Command System Instructor. A proponent of the National Incident Management System, Ahmed is working hard to standardize and adopt such standards for the URI community.

“Chief Ahmed’s dedication to the University community and his passion for emergency medical services are only surpassed by his care for the people he works with and for the responsibility that we have,” Henderson said. “The pride and the professionalism of the service have blossomed under Shad’s leadership.”

Ahmed is proud to lead a service that is fully staffed by volunteers. “We get no tuition waivers, no incentives and no stipends,” Ahmed said.

It’s lucky for URI that Ahmed chose to pursue his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Kingston. “When I was at an orientation at Boston University, I saw that it stressed its student-based EMS. But I made URI my choice because I just loved it, and I didn’t even know it had a student-volunteer medical service,” Ahmed said.

Pictured above

At left is Chad Henderson, director of URI Health Services, which oversees URI Emergency Medical Services, and at right is Thomas R. Dougan, vice president for Student Affairs. URI Department of Communications & Marketing photo by Michael Salerno Photography.