As editor, I often find myself assigning out to other writers stories I wish I had the time to write myself. But when Bill Cote ’74 approached me earlier this year about highlighting McGregor Emergency Medical Services (EMS) on the eve of the organization’s 50th anniversary, I knew it was one I couldn’t pass up.
I’ve long been impressed by the UNH students I meet, but never more than when speaking to these McGregor students and recent alumni.
Leaving aside my elementary school crush on the lead actors from the TV show “Emergency!” and my unrealized youthful medical aspirations, McGregor — or the Durham Ambulance Corps, as it was called at the time — loomed large in my Durham childhood. One of our neighbors was a Durham Ambulance volunteer, and when I’d see his red Mazda RX-7 speeding by with its emergency light spinning, I’d often wonder what sort of heroics he was off to perform. When one of my best friends’ fathers fell from a ladder and broke both his arms and one of his legs, volunteers from the ambulance corps were the first to arrive on scene. My own father worked closely with the organization for the brief window in the mid-1980s when UNH had a hyperbaric chamber to treat scuba divers with decompression sickness and patients with other injuries.
In the three days I spent at McGregor conducting research and interviews, there were few dramatic moments (I learned that there’s a term in EMS for people who seemingly possess the ability to keep the calls from 911 at bay: white clouds), but there were plenty of opportunities to witness the profound dedication and talent of UNH’s volunteer crew, which is largely made up of undergraduate students. When I was in college, I went to classes and wrote a little for my campus newspaper, but that’s about all. These students put in upwards of 100 hours a month as voluntary medical caregivers while balancing full class loads in demanding majors, sports, clubs and (I hope) at least a little bit of fun.
I’ve long been impressed by the UNH students I meet, but never more than when speaking to these McGregor students and recent alumni. Backed by skilled, caring mentors and rigorous training, they are, as Bill Cote calls them, “rock stars,” providing critical services to the local community and preparing themselves for bright careers as medical professionals. Their passion, commitment and intelligence should make you proud to share the title Wildcat. And while I hope you never need their services, I promise you’re in good hands if you do.
Kristin Waterfield Duisberg
Originally published in UNH Magazine Winter 2018 Issue