Claremont EMS club combines passion for health with community outreach

Eight medical workers pose for a photo while wearing handmade masks.
The student-run CCEMS club sewed and donated over 500 masks to hospitals across the United States. (Courtesy: CCEMS)

For the majority of the members of the Claremont Colleges Emergency Medical Services club, there was no way to predict just how essential doctors would become in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The whirlwind of the last six months hasn’t stopped CCEMS, whose members are using their passion for medicine and health to help those affected by the pandemic.

CCEMS is a student-run club at the 5Cs that consists primarily of pre-health students. The club has three main objectives: to help students obtain their emergency medical technician certification, to help foster a pre-health community on campus and to work on education and outreach initiatives. 

Before the pandemic, the club was primarily working on on-campus initiatives.

“We were mainly focused on trying to create a student-run EMT service,” said Co-Director of CCEMS Natalie Tsai SC ’22. “The other part was doing other outreach like Stop the Bleed.”

However, once the pandemic hit, the course and goals of the club changed. 

“[The club members] are all for the most part pre-health students, and so we all felt this urge in the beginning to be helping out our fellow doctors and EMTs and nurses who are working in the field,” Co-Director Aditi Chitre CM ’22 said.

One of the most urgent initiatives the club first focused on was the mask shortage in late spring and early summer, which they responded to by making masks themselves. Despite the fact that the majority of the club members were first-time sewers, they worked together to create streamlined templates and directions and ended up making and donating over 500 masks. 

“We donated everywhere throughout the United States,” Tsai said. “It was more geared towards your local community, so they were donated to fire stations, homeless shelters, nursing homes, assisted living homes and then a large portion of it also went to the Claremont local community called Uncommon Good.”

Another initiative the club has undertaken is a tutoring program to help children whose schooling has been disrupted due to the pandemic.

Ananya Koneti CM ’22, CCEMS chair of external events, was motivated to help start such a program after seeing her little brother’s disappointment when all of his summer programs were canceled. 

“I thought of having some type of free tutoring but also a mentorship program for students that were affected by this pandemic, which at that point was just for the summer,” Koneti said. “It was like, ‘All your summer camps are canceled, how can I help you?’” 

To address the issue, Koneti and the other club members created a free virtual summer learning program called Summer Education at the Claremont Colleges for K-12 children.

“It was originally an idea to help healthcare workers’ kids, because in the beginning, they were the main focus, but then we realized that so many people are also having to work from home and struggling to keep their kids entertained, so we opened it up to anyone,” Chitre said. 

The program offered free online tutoring and mentoring services to any K-12 student from volunteer undergraduate tutors from the Claremont Colleges. Younger students had one-on-one tutoring in specific subject areas, including weekly scientific experiments using household supplies. 

“For older kids we also opened it up for subject-specific tutoring, college application help and SAT and ACT prep, which was all done on an individual basis,” Chitre said.

The program grew during the summer to about 100 tutors and 200 students and was well-received by students, parents and tutors alike. Inspired by the success of the summer program, the club decided to extend the program through the school year. As it continued to grow and attract more students, it also started to attract tutors from other colleges. 

Dozens of colorful, handmade masks are splayed across a carpet.
The student-run CCEMS club sewed and donated over 500 masks to hospitals across the United States. (Courtesy: CCEMS)

“We [decided] to rename [SECC] to the Satellite Learning Program to be more inclusive to everybody that was involved, knowing that we were continuing past the summer and with a lot of other students besides the Claremont Colleges,” Koneti said.

The program now consists of over 400 tutors and students, with the tutors coming from over 13 different colleges across the country, including the 5Cs. As the program proceeds with its transition into fall, the club is focused on continuing to provide quality instruction to its students, as well as encouraging connections within the SLP through group events.

“I think the most important thing on the SLP side is really fostering those mentor-mentee relationships,” Koneti said. “I’ve heard so much from parents that it’s so nice for their kids to have someone in their lives that cares about their education right now besides just their parents, and it’s someone that they can build a relationship with.” 

Beyond the SLP, the club hopes to proceed with other initiatives within the community.

“[A goal is] to get people EMT certified, because I think that there has been a growing interest of people wanting to become an EMT since a pandemic, just seeing how important their role is,” Tsai said. 

When reflecting on the club’s response to the pandemic, Chitre expressed gratitude for the club members’ dedication.

“These are all great ideas, but none of them could have been carried out without the actual motivation to do so during a pandemic in an online setting from our members,” Chitre said.

Above all, during such tumultuous times, CCEMS and its members want to use their motivation and passion to work within the community.

“They do a really great job of just focusing it on ‘how can we help other people?’” Koneti said. “It’s not necessarily all about the club — they’re not putting the club first; they’re putting the community first. I think that’s been really, really pivotal in making sure the community is served the best that we can possibly do so.”

CCEMS is always looking for new members and/or tutors. To get involved, email claremontcollegesems@gmail.com to be put in contact with the Recruitment Coordinator, or visit ccems.weebly.com

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