SUNY and SBU prepare for heroin overdoses


Newsday reported that heroin, an addictive opioid, killed a record-high 144 people on Long Island last year. (BASIL JOHN / THE STATESMAN)

As a result of the rising of the number of deaths in New York due to heroin overdoses, the SUNY Faculty Senate is requesting that SUNY administration ensure that all SUNY campus police units and first responders carry a supply of naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of opioid overdoses.

Newsday reported heroin killed a record-high 144 people on Long Island in 2013, and CNN reported the number of people using the drug increased only for the youngest age group—between the ages of 15 and 24—according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CNN also reported the number of heroin arrests on Long Island increased 163 percent in 2013.

On Stony Brook’s campus, authorities in the University Police Department and Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps said heroin is not a problem.

“We have not had a heroin-related overdose or even an arrest for as long as any members of our department can remember,” Eric Olsen, the assistant chief of the UPD, said.

“There is maybe one heroin-related incident per year,” said Joseph Lalor, the captain of the Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps. Lalor also commented that there is even less hard drug use in the surrounding areas off-campus.

Lalor attributed the scarcity of heroin-related incidents to “good outreach programs on campus,” such as the Center for Prevention and Outreach.

Olsen explained UPD’s procedure for a heroin overdose call: “If [the police department] received a call for a medical, we would dispatch SBVAC and a sector car to the scene. If SBVAC arrived before our officers, they would take the lead in treating the overdose. If the University Police arrived to the scene first, we have the ability to administer Narcan [naloxone]. In either case, the patient would then be removed to the University Hospital for treatment.”

In the case of a heroin overdose, UPD and SBVAC are equipped with naloxone, a nasal mist usually referred to by its brand name Narcan, and are trained to use it. As the captain of SBVAC, Lalor is in charge of training members. Every semester, the EMTs and other members are re-trained, exceeding New York State’s standards. Even probationary members are trained to use Narcan.

“Heroin, when it enters the body, binds to receptors that cause the person using it to stop breathing,” Lalor said.

Heroin-related emergencies are usually respiratory emergencies. Lalor explained that “Narcan bumps the heroin off of the receptors because it has a higher affinity, and temporarily reverses the effects of heroin. The person must then be brought to the hospital.” The hospital takes further measures to cleanse heroin from the system.

Accident at Roth roundabout sends one to hospital


Harrison Andina, a commuter student, was struck while riding a skateboard across the intersection of Marburger Drive and Circle Road by a Nissan Altima driven by Lu Cao, another student.  (CHELSEA KATZ / THE STATESMAN)










A male pedestrian was struck by a Nissan Altima and was taken to the University Hospital by the Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps at about 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 17.

Commuter student Harrison Andina, who University Police identified to be the victim, was riding a skateboard across the intersection of Marburger Drive and Circle Road when he was struck by another student, Lu Cao, who was driving a Nissan Altima.

Andina was treated at the scene by SBVAC, according to UPD, and then taken to the hospital emergency room with a non life-threatening head injury.

It is not known whether the driver will face legal action.


Two-car accident in South P

Both drivers were transported to the university hospital. (KELLY ZEGERS/THE STATESMAN)

Both drivers involved in the accident in South P were transported to Stony Brook University Hospital. (KELLY ZEGERS/THE STATESMAN)

University Police responded to an accident involving two cars driven by Stony Brook University students in South P Lot at approximately 1 p.m on Tuesday, Aug. 26. Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps then took the one driver to the Stony Brook University Hospital for back pain.Their condition is unknown The other driver was not injured, according to Assistant Police Chief Eric Olsen. 

Airbags deployed in both vehicles and car fluid appeared to leak out of one of the vehicles, but responders covered it with sand.

Tow trucks arrived on the scene at about 1:50 p.m. to remove one of the cars. The other was driven from the scene.

At this time, the students’ names are unknown. 

No arrests or summonses were issued, according to Olsen. 

Aug. 26, 3:05 p.m.: Assistant Chief of Police Eric Olsen told The Statesman via email that at approximately 1 p.m., university police responded to a motor vehicle accident in South P Lot. Two cars were involved, the drivers both Stony Brook University students.

One student was taken to the Stony Brook University Hospital with back pain. The other driver was not injured, according to Olsen.

Both vehicles sustained body damage. One car required tow, while the other was driven from the scene.

No arrests or summonses were issued.

Aug. 26, 3 p.m.: University Police responded to an accident involving two cars in South P Lot at approximately 1:30 p.m on Tuesday, Aug. 26. Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps then took the two drivers to the university hospital for injury assessment and treatment.

Airbags deployed in both vehicles and car fluid appeared to leak out of one of the vehicles, but responders covered it with sand.

Tow trucks arrived on the scene at about 1:50 p.m. to remove both cars.

At this time, the drivers’ names are unknown, along with their health conditions.

UPDATE: Smoke causes Union evacuation, police say no fire

Emergency response vehicles stationed around the traffic circle by the Student Union bus stop. (JESUS PICHARDO/THE STATESMAN)

Emergency response vehicles stationed around the traffic circle by the Student Union bus stop. (JESUS PICHARDO/THE STATESMAN)

Smoke from a vent in the courtyard lounge on the second floor of the Student Union caused the building to be evacuated at approximately 1:15 a.m. on Tuesday, April 29.

Several emergency response vehicles, including those from the University Police, Setauket Fire Department and Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps., arrived at the scene around 1:30 a.m. as small groups of evacuated students huddled around the front and back entrances to the Union.

A group of students who did not identify themselves and were in the courtyard lounge at the time of the incident said they noticed the smoke coming out the of the vent. They first thought one of their device chargers was the cause, but when they looked underneath the vent they saw a small fire. A female student that was in the lounge at the time pulled the fire alarm.

Tuesday, April 29, 1:52 p.m.:  Assistant Chief of University Police Eric Olsen emailed The Statesman a statement regarding the situation.

Early this morning University Police Officers and Fire Marshals responded to the Student Union for a report of smoke,” Olsen said. “Upon arrival Officers observed a smoke condition and began evacuating the building while Fire Marshals investigated the cause of the smoke. The cause of the smoke was determined to be a malfunction of the ventilation (HVAC) system in the building and not a fire. No persons were injured and Campus Operations and Maintenance personnel were contacted to correct the issue.”

Around 3:13 a.m., all of the emergency response vehicles cleared out of the area, leaving their posts by the Student Union bus stop and in the stadium parking lot. Two fire officers packing up to leave said they had no comment on the situation. Around the same time, a Stony Brook Facilities and Services vehicle arrived. An electrician heading into the building said he would receive orders on how to proceed from the fire marshal.

At approximately 3:03 a.m., a Union building official said Campus Dining employees were allowed back into the building to shut down any running equipment. He also said the incident was not caused by anything in the dining facilities on the first floor, but that he was unsure of the exact cause.

At approximately 2:32 a.m., a university police officer told The Statesman that UPD was unsure of the cause of the smoke.  Around the same time, Setauket fire officers were connecting a hose to a hydrant across the street from the main entrance of the Union. The hydrant was not utilized.

At approximately 2:08 a.m., a fire police officer at the scene told The Statesman that the emergency responders heading into the building were looking for the electrical room inside the Union.

UPDATE: This story was updated on Tuesday, April 29 to include a statement from the University Police regarding the smoke in the Student Union.

No reason to vote against mandatory Student Activities Fee

Holi is one of many events funded through the Student Activity Fee. (HEATHER KHALIFA / THE STATESMAN)

Holi is one of many events funded through the Student Activity Fee. (HEATHER KHALIFA / THE STATESMAN)

What gives, Kyle? Why did you do it? Why did you vote against making the Student Activity Fee mandatory? Are you just anti-fun? Or worse—a libertarian? Do you not enjoy being coerced?

People like Kyle are the reason why we can’t have nice things. The unfortunate truth is that in a democracy, you have to anticipate the potential damage that comes with allowing people to voice their opinions. The 369 dissenters who voted to make the Student Activity Fee voluntary are a good example of democracy in crisis. What good is democracy if you vote against the common good?

Despite their fierce resistance, the results are in—the Student Activity Fee is still mandatory, thanks to the 808 patriots who voted “yes” for fun, child care, tutoring and SBVAC. To this, one might object, “But the people who voted against it only voted for it to be voluntary, not to abolish it altogether!” Away with your voluntary-ist tomfoolery! Any reasonable man can see that if the fee were made voluntary, nobody would part with so much as a dime to support student life at Stony Brook. Have you seen the election results? Hardly anyone voted on the issue in the first place.

The outcome, then, should be pleasing to you. Since the fee is still mandatory, the university will continue to reserve the privilege of extorting you so that you can have fun. This is a positive result. What would Stony Brook be without the stimulating lectures, exhilarating concerts and student groups like The Next Generation (how else would they pay for all that rope?) that make this campus so vibrant and dynamic?

Even if you are not so convinced that Stony Brook is vibrant and dynamic, the fee is still doing you a service. In the very least, it helps to compensate for the university’s soul-crushingly bad aesthetic appeal. Even if you are not terribly involved in student life, the availability of various events and clubs can help counterbalance the notion that your university looks like a gulag.

You should be glad for the Student Activity Fee. Without it, Stony Brook would be like Siberia. What do people do in Siberia? Drink, trap bears and drive tanks into convenience stores. Do you want Stony Brook to be like Siberia? Try to picture it. Orgo students huddled around a bonfire outside Melville, playing a game of Russian Roulette (Maybe this is already a common occurrence). People drinking…a lot more than they already do. Can you imagine how dull and bleak campus life would be? I certainly can. We would all be a bunch of grumpy nihilists. Do you think it is a coincidence that the term “nihilism” was coined by a Russian? Let’s not turn Stony Brook into Siberia.

As a member of the subspecies Homo sapiens commuterus, I am already relegated to a campus life of more limited social opportunities than residents (as well as the almost surreally never-ending road work on Nicolls). Having activities like The Statesman available is important for people like myself to find stuff to do and meet students with common interests.

But the Student Activity Fee does more than enrich our college experience. It also provides for some pretty essential services. Free tutoring is essential for many students who struggle with difficult topics. SBVAC, the university’s volunteer ambulance group, depends on its proceeds as well. The child care program is important for those who need its service. Many people seem to forget that not all college students are 20-somethings with no children or further obligations.

This exhortation may seem a little disproportionate, considering the results are already in, but it is my hope that students will be convinced of the importance of student activities and services in order to prevent the possibility of a bad decision in the future. To this end, I think the university ought to consider some reforms that will help steer the student body towards acting in the common interest.

To begin with, the voter turnout is abysmal—only 1,177 students voted on the issue. Stony Brook has the population of a small city. This suggests to me a chronic problem of voter apathy. To encourage civic virtue, I think we should consider implementing Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s concept of a civil religion. Instead of wasting money on new logos, we should allocate funds toward erecting a ziggurat for the veneration of Wa’alfie, the cult god of Stony Brook. Roth Pond Regatta will be elevated to the status of a jubilee festival in honor of His greatness. President Stanley, as high priest, would be responsible for the blood sacrifices. Establishing traditions such as these would inspire zealous devotion for the university and encourage collective action that would steer students toward acting in the general will.

I must appear to neglect the fact that the Student Activity Fee costs people money. About $100 dollars a semester. I realize that college is expensive—but if you are going to spend thousands of dollars on a degree, you may as well spend a little extra to help make your college experience more than a drive-through.

Hail Wa’alfie.

Campus briefing: USG condemns university’s broad-based fees advertising

The Undergraduate Student Government Senate unanimously passed a resolution Thursday evening in which it condemns the university’s lack of advertising of the proposed broad-based fee increases that will take effect in the 2014-2015 school year.

The resolution, which was proposed by Vice President of Communications & Public Relations Mario Ferone, is a reaction to the open forum discussion on broad-based fees that was hosted by the university on the afternoon of April 2 in the Student Activities Center (SAC) Auditorium.

Only three undergraduates attended the forum: Ferone, USG Vice President of Clubs & Organizations Kerri Mahoney and Chris Priore, a former USG class representative.

According to Ferone, the only advertising of the forum came from an email that was sent to the university community on March 5 by Lyle Gomes, the university’s vice president for finance and chief budget officer.

The forum was not mentioned on the university website, but the webpage for the fees did have a link to a feedback form. “We don’t have an issue with the fees themselves,” Ferone said. “The issue is the lack of advertising.”

In the resolution, USG suggests that another forum be held and properly advertised and that USG would help advertise the proposed second forum. Gomes responded in an email stating that “the University will do its best to accommodate this request.”

The broad-based fees, also known altogether as the comprehensive fee, are seven fees that are paid by every undergraduate student: the academic excellence fee, the college fee, the health services fee, the intercollegiate athletics fee, the recreation fee, the technology fee and the transportation fee.

Increases for all fees except the college fee and the academic excellence fee have been proposed for the 2014-2015 year. In all, the fees will increase by $61.50.

Each fee has an associated student advisory board. According to Gomes, each board has been meeting monthly on average since early fall of 2013.

On March 31, USG posted an informational video about the increase in fees on its YouTube channel. The video comprises interviews with directors of departments that are involved in fee-related decisions. USG and the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) both tweeted about the forum on April 2.

Gomes held a student media briefing on March 4 and met with USG on March 10 to give an overview of the proposed fee increases and answer questions.

The senate also passed a budget from the Special Service Council for the Veteran Student Organization, which was represented by president Jennifer Freire, by a vote of 14-6-0. The budget, which totals $528, includes funding for a veterans social and a charity event for the Wounded Warrior Project.

Senators then voted on a resolution to support a proposed funding plan for the Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps (SBVAC). The plan calls for USG to gradually decrease SBVAC funding from the current amount of $164,435 to $40,000 for the 2018-2019 year. The resolution was approved with a final vote of 13-7-0.

In September 2013, the USG University and Academic Affairs Committee proposed another resolution that asked the university to finance SBVAC, which is currently funded by the student activity fee controlled by USG.

The senate voted 17-3-0 to pass an act that switches the justices of the USG Judiciary from a per-case stipend to a weekly stipend—$30 per week for the chief justice and $20 per week for the associate justices. The act requires justices to work on “special projects for USG” in order to collect their stipends.

Chief Justice Sarah Twarog said that possible future special projects include building judiciary bylaws, holding mediation sessions and creating a flowchart on the lawsuit filing process.

Meeting in Brief:

  • Veteran Student Organization SSC Budget Application was passed

  • Resolution to Support Proposed SBVAC Funding Plan was passed

  • Supreme Court Pay Adjustment Act was passed

  • Resolution Condemning the Broad Based Fee Increases on the Basis of Lack of Advertising was passed.

Police arrest student on assault charges

by Giselle Barkley and Rebecca Anzel

On Friday, March 14 at 1:30 a.m., university police responded to a report of a fight between two male students.

A verbal and then physical altercation transpired between the two students, who are residents of Irving College, according to Assistant Chief of Police Lawrence Zacarese.

Police arrested the assailant, who was charged with assault in the third degree, added Zacarese in a statement.

Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps President Roxana Mehran said SBVAC transported the two male students from Irving College to the Stony Brook University Hospital.

It is still unknown who the two male students are and their current condition.

6:21 p.m., March 15: According to a statement made by Roxana Mehran, president of the Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps, SBVAC transported the two male students from Irving College to the Stony Brook University Hospital.

6:29 p.m.: On Friday, March 14 at 1:30 a.m., university police responded to a report of a fight between two male students.

A verbal and then physical altercation transpired between the two students, who are residents of Irving College, according to Assistant Chief of Police Lawrence Zacarese.

Police arrested the assailant, who was charged with assault in the third degree, added Zacarese in a statement.


Police Blotter for the week of Monday, Jan. 27

Marijuana and Alcohol Violations:

On Wednesday, Jan. 29, there was an underage alcohol violation on Circle Road near the LIRR.

On Wednesday, Jan. 29, an RA from Dewey College reported a student for smoking marijuana in their room. One student was referred to the university. A referral was also issued for a student in Lauterbur Hall. Police also responded to a marijuana related complaint at Hand College, but it was unfounded.

On Friday, Jan. 31, a student was reported for smoking marijuana in a dorm room at Gershwin College.

On Thursday, Jan. 30, an RA from Grey College reported a student for smoking marijuana in their room. One student was referred.

On Friday, Jan. 31, an intoxicated male was transported to the University Hospital via SBVAC from Hendrix College. He was issued a student referral.

Exit Sings:

On Wednesday, Jan. 29, an exit sign damaged at Schick College.
On Sunday, Feb. 2, an exit sign was damaged at Eisenhower College.

Larceny and Robbery:

On Wednesday, Jan 29, there cash was stolen from a wallet at Frey Hall.
On Saturday, Feb. 1, there was burglary at Ammann College.
On Saturday, Feb. 1, there was a larceny from the SAC.


On Friday, Jan. 31, there was harassment at Engineering.
On Saturday, Feb.  1, there was harassment at C. N. Yang Hall. There was a closed student referral.
On Friday, Jan. 31, there was criminal mischief at Lauterbur Hall.

Student arrested after driving car into H Quad bushes


A white sedan crashes into the bushes behind Benedict College sometime after midnight on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. The driver, Christopher Pimentel, was treated at the Stony Brook University hospital shortly after the accident. (HANAA’ TAMEEZ / THE STATESMAN)


Stony Brook student Christopher Pimentel was arrested early Friday morning for driving while intoxicated after police found his car in a bush in the H Quad parking lot, according to University Chief of Police Robert Lenahan.

Lenahan said university police responded to a phone call about a car driving down the wrong side of the road without any lights near the athletic fields at approximately 12:10 a.m. The officers found Pimental trying to get his car out of the bushes and asked him to roll down his window.

Based on the initial conversation Pimentel had with the officers, they asked him to step out of his vehicle and the officers came to the conclusion that he was under the influence of alcohol. Pimentel was arrested but did not take a breathalyzer test at the scene of the accident. 

The Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps. transported Pimentel to Stony Brook University Hospital to be treated for intoxication. He was released back into university police custody sometime today and was later transferred to the Suffolk County criminal courts.

SBVAC Vice President Max McDonnell said the organization is not able to make a comment on the accident at this time. 

Pimentel is also a staff photographer for The Statesman.  

5:58 p.m., Oct. 25: University Chief of Police Robert J. Lenahan told The Statesman that the University Police received a complaint about a male student driving down the wrong side of the road near the athletic fields.

The responding officers found the student  trying to get his car out of the bushes into which he crashed. The student appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and was arrested at the scene of the incident. SBVAC arrived at the scene and took him to Stony Brook University Hospital.

12:39 a.m., Oct. 25: After midnight on Friday, Oct. 25, a white car drove into the bushes behind Benedict College in H Quad.

Four police cars and an ambulance were at the scene.

A student who identified herself to the reporter as Shirley said she saw a male on the bed in the back of the ambulance as it drove away.

It is unclear whether or not the driver was a student and if he or she sustained any injuries.

Elite Towing and Transport Inc. arrived at the scene to move the car, according to an Elite Towing employee who identified himself as Herman, but declined to provide his last name to the reporter over the phone.

The University Police could not be reached for comment.

Correction: October 29, 2013 An earlier version of this article misspelled the driver’s name. The correct spelling is Christopher Pimentel, as the article now reflects.

SBVAC wins national recognition as organization of the year

SBVAC members conduct training in a mock call scenario, which includes transportation to the hospital. (PHOTO CREDIT: STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY)

SBVAC members conduct training in a mock call scenario, which includes transportation to the hospital. (PHOTO CREDIT: STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY)

Twelve active members of the Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps (SBVAC) attended the 20th Annual National Collegiate EMS Foundation conference that was held in Washington, D.C., from Feb. 22-24.  At this conference, SBVAC was presented with the National Collegiate EMS Foundation’s (NCEMSF) Organization of the Year.

“We are very honored to receive national recognition,” Daniel Wolbrom, chief of operations at SBVAC, said.  “We continue to provide the highest quality of pre-hospital medicine on a daily basis, and our members are honored for being recognized.”

This three-day conference included an EMS skills competition and more than 100 lectures given by medical, EMS, public health and government experts, according to Wolbrom.

“I personally attended many lectures, and found them to be highly educational,” Wolbrom said. “My 11 fellow members also feel the same way, and we hope to use the knowledge we gained at the conference to share with our members who were not in attendance.”

SBVAC is a 90-member, student-led volunteer emergency response unit that primarily serves the Stony Brook University Campus. Since its founding in 1970, SBVAC has grown into a collegiate EMS agency that provides a high standard of emergency response to Stony Brook and its surrounding communities.

The team of volunteer students responded to almost 1,300 calls last year.  SBVAC assists more than 8,000 residents on campus and a community that includes an average of 30,000 people.

This response unit is trained for every type of emergency, from abdominal pain to cardiac arrest, and is prepared to administer the highest level of pre-hospital medicine.

“Many people assume because we are student-run and based on a college campus we do not treat serious incidents, which is false. On a large campus with tens of thousands of people, we treat patients with every type of illness or injury, and take what we do seriously,” Wolbrom said.  “We are frequently faced with having to make life-affecting decisions, and do so knowing we are very well trained and prepared.”

This award came at a timely manner for the members of SBVAC, who have faced many challenging calls in the past few months with events such as Superstorm Sandy and Winter Storm Nemo, which both hit the Stony Brook community hard.

SBVAC was selected for this award from more than 100 collegiate EMS organizations across the nation.

“It is a great honor for us to receive this award,” SBVAC President and a Stony Brook University senior double-majoring in sociology and women’s studies, Frankie Rivera, said. “We have tried to provide the best care that we can despite the major weather storms we have had in the past year. It means a lot to the members who braved both storms and made themselves available to serve the campus.”

Wolbrom explained that SBVAC has had a lot of success over the past 43 years.  This can be seen through the increase in application rates, call volume, record-low response times and the improvement in patient care and equipment.

Along with the 12 members of SBVAC that were in attendance at the National Collegiate EMS Foundation conference, Joshua Moskovitz, MD, MPH, ex-chief and lifetime member of SBVAC, also joined the students.

Dr. Moskovitz, who is currently an emergency medicine physician at North Shore University Hospital, was also recognized at the NCEMSF conference, receiving the President George J. Koenig Jr., DO, Service Award.

According to a press release from SBU, “previously, SBVAC received the ‘Striving for Excellence’ Award at the 2001 NCEMSF annual conference; the Suffolk County EMS Agency of the Year Award (2002); the New York State EMS Agency of the Year Award (2003) by the New York State Department of Health’s Bureau of Emergency Services; and a first-place finish at the 2011 NCEMSF Advanced Life Support Skills Competition.”

SBU police officer strikes pedestrian with patrol car

A Stony Brook Police Department cruiser is removed from a ditch near the Tabler Residence Quad after an officer struck a female student on the sidewalk. (ANUSHA MOOKERJEE / THE STATESMAN)

A Stony Brook Police Department cruiser is removed from a ditch near the Tabler Residence Quad after an officer struck a female student on the sidewalk. (ANUSHA MOOKERJEE / THE STATESMAN)

A University Police car struck Stony Brook student Brianna Bifone on the sidewalk near the Tabler West Bus Stop on Circle Road at 10:12 p.m. on Thursday while responding to an emergency call, according to multiple sources close to the situation.

The car continued into an embankment, pinning Bifone beneath the rear of the vehicle.

“According to eyewitness reports, the responding vehicle was traveling with its emergency lights activated when it struck a sidewalk which caused it to veer onto the opposite walkway, subsequently striking the student pedestrian,” Chief of Police Robert Lenahan said in a statement.

Daniel Wolbrom, chief of Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps (SBVAC), said Bifone’s legs were pinned beneath the car for about 30 minutes before she was extricated and moved to an ambulance.

Both Bifone and the police officer were taken to Stony Brook University Hospital for evaluation.

Bifone is reported to be in fair condition, while the police officer, who sustained minor injuries, was treated and released from the hospital, Lenahan said.

The identity of the police officer has yet to be released.

The police officer was responding to a call regarding a “large group” at the Student Union when he struck the student, Assistant Chief of Police Lawrence Zacarese said.

The accident is currently under investigation, but Zacarese said there was no reason to believe the police officer was under the influence at the time of the incident.

The police officer radioed for assistance and emergency vehicles from University Police, Stony Brook Fire Department, Setauket Fire Department, SBVAC and Suffolk County Police Department arrived on the scene.

Check back for updates to the story.

USG shouldn’t cut life support to SBVAC

This school really needs to reconsider how clubs and organizations get their budgets, because after spending 24 hours riding along with the Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps. (SBVAC), I can really say it deserves so much more than what the school provides for the corps. Riding along gave me a whole new perspective in how the company runs its calls, treats its patients, and how much it really does for the campus on the tiny budget that it receives.

The fact that the organization is comprised of volunteers is what separates SBVAC from the surrounding agencies and the ones I’ve had encounters with. As a former patient of both SBVAC and another off campus ambulance agency that gave me a bill of 800 dollars, I’d choose SBVAC any day. As volunteers, the EMTs of SBVAC do everything because they care, rather than for the paycheck. Normally a call to 911 leaves you with a huge bill, but with SBVAC’s being a free service to students, one would only assume that SBVAC is being compensated well. Looking into the budget, or, more appropriately, the lack thereof, I got an opportunity to spend time riding along with SBVAC to learn more about why an ambulance corps budget was being cut, and it was managing without sufficient funds.

One call that really stood out to me was one to the Long Island State Veterans Home. Here, patients are treated everyday for illnesses in their old age, and SBVAC receives many calls from the home. On my ride along, I got a chance to see how well the crew on shift interacted with the patients. Within a minute of the call’s going out to pick up a bleeding patient from the veteran’s home, Dan was already in the ambulance with the lights and sirens ready to go. Frankie, the crew chief, sat in front getting his paperwork together, and in the back I watched Jack and Damian get the stretcher and their bags ready. Even Chief Daniel sped to the scene in his own car, and normally does so to make sure every calls run smooth.

It took us about seven minutes to get the patient and leave, but within that time, the crew had somehow managed to make the patient comfortable and okay with the situation. Frankie kept checking his oxygen mask to make sure the patient was comfortable with a mask on, brought blankets and made sure no belongings would be lost. Dan got paperwork while Damian helped with patient care. On the ride to the hospital and at the emergency room, the crew did everything it could to keep the patient calm, comfortable and do its job at the same time. The crew’s attention to the small details is what separates SBVAC from many agencies. Sometimes, the crew can’t even do anything, as the patient is in need of a hospital rather than emergency care; yet in those situations, they treat the patient no different.

It’s very hard to convey emotions in writing, but it was honestly touching to see volunteer EMTs care so much about a patient. They will never hear about the patient after they drop them off, so to them it could be a meaningless job, but it’s this that makes SBVAC such an important organization to have on campus. It’s never a meaningless job or call. They take each call without judgment and respond to even minor issues as fast as they can. The other EMS agencies whom I’ve had encounters with only fought about who would take the patient so that they could bill them. It was a horrible experience altogether, and one I never had or will have with SBVAC. Getting into an ambulance as a sick patient is never fun or comfortable, but the effort SBVAC takes in order to make sure every member fits into the agency’s dynamics really pays off. It was obvious through the patient care that I saw the EMTs give that they all understood the importance of their work, and how to work with each other to a level of perfection and, above all, make the patient their number one priority.

It took a neighboring department 27 minutes to find Roth. It takes SBVAC 4. In the case of a life or death situation, though I’m not medically qualified to say so, it’s a safe bet to say an extra 23 minutes is way too long. In fairness to the neighboring agency, they normally don’t respond to campus calls, but what if they had to? If we didn’t have SBVAC, people would be waiting a lot longer for an ambulance and be paying more than they would want to, like I did. There are so many advantages of an ambulance corps on campus and no negatives. Some may find the budget to be a negative, but financially, SBVAC would be the cheapest and most convenient option for the school. It was on a Thursday overnight with Chief Daniel, Roxana, Zach and Rob that I figured out what SBVAC meant when members kept telling me no other agency could figure out the campus. Going through the buildings, I would have been lost if I wasn’t trained in the layout of the campus. Their knowledge of the campus is a skill set that is unique to the agency, and a lot of it has to do with the volunteers’ mostly being campus residents. Though other agencies can provide the same services at the same standards, the university is lucky to have a personalized service that strives to serve the students for free.

The word free needs to be repeated over and over. SBVAC charges nothing for its services, yet has a basic operating budget of $200,000, of which $140,000 comes from the Undergraduate Student Government (USG). With this, it serves the campus, surrounding community, countless campus events such as sports, concerts and events such as the Roth Regatta. SBVAC is a vital tool that we have on campus, yet struggle every year to get a proper, functional budget. This year especially, it waited over a semester to receive a single check from USG, forcing the agency to dip into its savings. As a company, it’s doing everything possible to maintain standards and fight a lacking budget from the school. Those savings would have gone to a new ambulance to replace the rapidly aging, 16 year old ambulance that barely starts up. On the call to the Veterans Home, Dan didn’t even switch the ambulance off (as per his training) because he knew it probably would have an issue starting up again, which this is a common problem. Dan can’t switch off the engine of an emergency vehicle because it’s too old to start up again. At this point I don’t need to point out that this is obviously beyond ridiculous, which is an understatement.

I don’t understand how this is still up for debate in USG and, more importantly, how the administration hasn’t stepped in at this point. Though USG is not the only source of money, it is the largest and really the only source that gives something substantial. SBVAC isn’t asking for money to aimlessly spend. It’s asking for money to spend on the community.

It wants to keep shaping the agency, but with such a struggle to receive money, its hard work is going unnoticed. No person in his or her right mind can call an agency greedy when it asks for more money to just meet the minimum operational cost, especially when its service is emergency medicine.

I pay so many fees to this school, how come one can’t protect my health? On every single call I went to, I was truly amazed at the work a full-time student can do. I was so exhausted after my overnight with the crews, and to know that they all do it at least once a week is beyond dedication to this school and its population. SBVAC has supported our campus for over 40 years, and it’s time that someone helps them out.


SBVAC funds finally approved

USG has approved funds for SBVAC, and emergency response group on campus. Anusha Mookherjee/The Statesman

After the resolution of a series of paperwork problems – including an address error and late audit reports  – the Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps will receive the first round of checks from its 2011-2012 budget from the Undergraduate Student Government.

SBVAC had not received any checks because it didn’t have a proper address on the contract for its budget and had not filed its audits from last semester, according to USG Treasurer Thomas Kirnbauer.  The organization is required to fill out audit reports and submit them to USG because it is a Direct Pay Organization, as opposed to other clubs on campus, Kirnbauer said.

The address error on the contracts, however, has gone unfixed for years, according to Daniel H. Wolbrom, chief of operations for SBVAC.

“[In] the last six years, USG paid us regardless of a typo on the contract, but chose this year to hold back our payments for an additional two months because of this,” he said. “The address on our contract was for a building that no longer exists on campus. It was where we used to be located prior to 2005, but was never fixed on the contract by the USG.”

The issue was delayed further because the USG Senate tabled the voting for the budget several times, Kirnbauer said.

SBVAC, a New York State certified ambulance corporation, serves the SBU campus and surrounding area and provides mutual aid to neighboring fire and emergency medical services departments with about 70 to 90 volunteers and three operational ambulances, according to its website.

SBVAC normally receives three checks a year from USG to pay for basic life support and advanced life support supplies, the maintenance and repair of the ambulances, insurance for the vehicles and volunteers, radios and pagers for communication and other necessary expenditures, according to SBVAC President Joseph Park.  However, SBVAC is only now receiving the money – halfway through spring semester.

“Personally, I have not had problems receiving money,” Park said. “As president the previous year as well, we received our funds with no problems.”

The USG Budget Committee and senate recently approved SBVAC’s budget for the 2011-2012 Academic Year due to the urgency of the

situation.  “We have to pay our bills, and when our ambulances and equipment need repairs, we have to fix them right away. Without the funds we cannot provide the best quality care to our patients,” Park said.

SBVAC’s budget this year was $141,250, down from $165,000 in the previous year.

“These cuts were pretty significant considering the past year to two years, we have seen dramatic rises in our operating costs due to increased insurance, increased fuel prices and more ambulance repairs due to their increasing age and wear and tear,” Wolbrom said.

SBVAC, like many of the other clubs and organizations on campus, is asking for an increased budget for the 2012-2013 academic year. The organization asked USG for a 41 percent increase in funding. But more money going to SBVAC would be less money going to other clubs and organizations, Kirnbauer said.

“It’s a tough position for USG,” he said. “Every student on USG, including me, thinks what SBVAC does is great.”

Wolbrom said that with the rising student population, SBVAC needs a bigger budget to serve that population.  “[The] increase in amount of students on campus … leads to us using more medical equipment and fuel to go on those 911 calls that occur more frequently,” Wolbrom said.

If SBVAC were to be dissolved, the Stony Brook and Setauket Fire Departments would not be able to pick up the approximate 1,200 911 EMS calls that SBVAC responds to each year, Wolbrom said.

An ambulance fee, on top of other fees that students pay, has been suggested as an option for SBVAC to have a steady income in the future, according to Kirnbauer.  However, this isn’t likely to pass anytime soon because it would have to go through state legislation, Kirnbauer said.

SBVAC also receives $25,000 from the state, according to Wolbrom.  There have been negotiations for SBVAC to receive more state aid, but there will not be an increase to that budget at this time, he said.

“So my main concern now is regarding next year’s budget,” Wolbrom said.  “I am afraid USG won’t realize they [are] our only real option and cut our budget even more.”

The USG Senate will be voting on the final budget for the 2012-2013 academic year this week.