By: Yitzchak Carroll  | 

Saving Lives at Stern

A cadre of trained first responders have been providing emergency medical care to their fellow students at Stern College for Women. Ezras Nashim, an all-female emergency medical services agency, has had an active branch on the Beren Campus since April 2019. 

The group’s state-certified emergency medical technicians respond to calls at all hours of the day throughout the week on the Beren Campus. Comprised entirely of Beren students, volunteers serve in 12-hour shifts, on which they may respond to anywhere from zero to 10 calls. 

Though the Stern chapter is affiliated with the Brooklyn-based central command of Ezras Nashim, it raises its own funds and holds its own training drills to ensure its members are well-prepared to respond to emergencies. Founded by Judge Rachel “Ruchie” Freier in 2011 in response to the lack of female EMTs in Hatzalah Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Ezras Nashim began in Brooklyn and has since branched out to Monsey and the Five Towns. 

Ailin Elyasi (SCW ‘20) serves as the group’s coordinator. Elyasi initially volunteered for Ezras Nashim’s central branch, and after seeing a need for the service at Stern, she approached Freier with the idea of starting a Stern chapter of the agency. “She was immediately on board, and the plan was set in motion,” Elyasi said. 

As a practicing EMT, students approached Elyasi with health problems, unsure of whether to go to the hospital. “When my friends started approaching me asking if anyone had a blood pressure cuff, I knew something was seriously lacking on campus,” she said. “At night, and during weekends, there were no medical staff to help girls who needed even light medical attention, such as a routine checkup ordered by a doctor, or just some help for stomach pain or a headache.”

YU security guards on the Beren Campus are trained to call Ezras Nashim’s central emergency line in the event of an emergency. An Ezras Nashim dispatcher then alerts members — including a senior EMT to oversee the call — to respond and pick up one of several “jump bags” stocked with lifesaving equipment, located strategically throughout campus buildings. Working as a team, the Ezras Nashim EMTs stabilize the patient and call for an ambulance to transport to a hospital, if needed.

Concerning medical issues, Elyasi urges fellow students to be safe rather than sorry. “People can call us with an obvious emergency, or with any medical questions they have. If anyone is unsure of whether or not to call, it is better to call.”

Prior to the arrival of Ezras Nashim on the Beren Campus, students experiencing medical emergencies would have to wait upwards of 10 minutes for a city ambulance to arrive. “There was a serious lack of immediate medical care available to the Stern Campus,” said Elianna Ashendorf (SCW ‘23), Ezras Nashim’s training coordinator, noting that Ezras Nashim’s average response time on the Beren Campus is under two minutes. 

Ashendorf, who also serves as an EMT with the Bergenfield Volunteer Ambulance Corps, cited the benefits of being cared for by peers in an emergency situation. “Sometimes seeing a friend or a fellow student can be calming and more relaxing in a time of stress than having a team of random EMS responders from the city,” she said. 

Tamar Schwartz (SCW ‘20), Ezras Nashim’s logistical coordinator and a founding member of the Beren group noted how Ezras Nashim EMTs are bound by privacy laws and that fellow students should not hesitate to call for help. “We will not share any information that came up during a patient interaction, either to the school, or to the friends or roommates of a patient,” she said. “Your privacy is one of our top priorities.”

The group is actively seeking new members in both emergency care and support roles, both of which are equally essential to the agency’s operation. Currently, nearly 20 Stern students volunteer for Ezras Nashim as emergency responders. Ezras Nashim provides state-issued vouchers to defray the cost of an EMT course for new volunteers. In addition to the 150-hour initial certification course, members constantly train to hone their skills. “It’s not easy being an emergency responder, but it definitely is worth it,” Elyasi said, noting the significant time commitment involved for volunteers.

Moving forward, the group plans to raise further awareness of their work and run first-aid events for the general campus community, Schwartz said. “We are proud to call ourselves members of Ezras Nashim,” Elyasi said. “We are also the first Ezras Nashim branch and are assisting in the formation of new Ezras Nashim branches.” 

Above all, the satisfaction of helping a fellow member of the YU community in an emergency motivates Ezras Nashim’s members to invest their time and efforts. “There are not enough words to describe what it means to treat a person in need,” Elyasi said. “The feeling of seeing a girl who needs help and then being able to provide her with the care she needs is indescribable.”

Elyasi cited the efforts of Dean of Students Chaim Nissel and Beren Housing Director Rachel Kraut-Sivorinovsky in the group’s formation. Nissel lauded the agency’s lifesaving work and role on campus. “We are confident that when we do need them, Ezras Nashim will continue to provide prompt, sensitive and quality medical interventions,” he said.

Photo Caption: Ezras Nashim EMTs
Photo Credit: Ezras Nashim