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FAQ

  • How do I call the ambulance?
    CAVA is dispatched by the Columbia University Department of Public Safety. CU EMS is dispatched by the Columbia University Department of Public Safety. To reach Columbia University Public Safety in an emergency, dial 99 from any campus phone, or 212-854-5555 from any other phone.
  • Are CU EMS Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) as good as 'regular' EMTs?
    Yes. While we are a volunteer service, all CU EMS EMTs are state-certified through the same 120-hour EMT course and state test that all NYC-EMS EMTs are required to take.
  • Is CU EMS capable of handling pediatric and geriatric emergencies?
    Yes. CU EMS EMTs are trained in the full scope of EMT-Basic capabilities, meaning they can respond to any medical emergency. This includes pediatric and geriatric emergencies. Our ambulance is fully equipped with specialized equipment to treat pediatric and geriatric emergencies.
  • Where will the ambulance take me if I am sick/injured?
    The destination depends on the severity of your condition.
    If your condition requires treatment in the Emergency Department (ED), we will generally transport you to the St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center Emergency Department, located at 113th St and Amsterdam Ave. However, if your condition potentially requires specialty services not offered at St. Luke's, we will directly transport you to the appropriate facility. Note, however, that NYC-EMS protocol prohibits us from transporting you to any hospital farther than 20 minutes away from the closest hospital to your location.
    For students with minor illnesses and injuries during normal business hours, we can transport you to Urgent Care, at Health Services at Columbia, where you can quickly receive treatment for the minor illness or injury.
  • Will I get billed if I am transported by the ambulance?
    No. The CU EMS ambulance ALWAYS provides transport free of charge for its patient and their insurance companies, regardless of repeated use. Most NYC-EMS ambulances will charge a $500-$1000 base fee, plus the cost of any interventions they provide. CU EMS will not cover these charges if we are not available, or not sent for your emergency. Patients should speak to their insurance companies regarding payment of such bills.
  • How confidential is the ambulance service?
    By law, we are required to maintain a level of confidentiality about all of our patients. This includes not divulging your information to parties not directly involved in your medical care. After transport, we are not allowed to talk with your parents, your friends, or even the police.
  • I'm really embarrassed to have to be taken in an ambulance, what should I do?
    It is not uncommon to feel embarrassed, but this should never prevent you from calling for an ambulance if you need it. You should not have to feel embarrassed for taking advantage of a medical service provided for your community. If you are hurt or ill, we are here to help. Your situation will be handled with medical professionalism. If you think you need emergency medical attention, you should call for an ambulance immediately.
  • I know some CU EMS EMTs, and I'm afraid that if I ever need to call the ambulance, one of them will be the one who arrives (how embarrassing). What should I do?
    This is a common issue encountered within small communities. By law, EMTs do not reveal information about patients to those who are not directly related to improving the patients' health. Additionally, your level of care will not differ whether you know the EMTs on duty.
  • What area does CU EMS cover?
    CU EMS' primary service area covers the Columbia University Campus and dormitories, primarily between 110th St and 125th St. However, if requested, we are able to respond to locations outside this area.
  • Will the police come if I call for an ambulance?
    When you call x99 or 212-854-5555 for a medical emergency, the Department of Public Safety will respond. This is primarily done for the safety of everyone involved. The NYPD will only be called by the CU EMS crew in the event that they encounter a criminal matter, or a serious threat to their safety.
  • When is the ambulance available?
    The ambulance is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • What happens if I call 911?
    If you dial 911, CU EMS will not receive your call. A NYC-EMS ambulance, along with the NYPD, will be dispatched for your emergency.
    NYC-EMS is not familiar with the layout of the campus, or the best ways to access different buildings so they may take longer to respond.
  • How fast is the ambulance?
    Our ambulance will arrive on scene within minutes of a call. Our protocols require us to be en route within 4 minutes of receiving a call. And since we know the university locations, and the speediest routes, we will reach the patient 3 to 4 times faster than a NYC-EMS ambulance.
  • I am interested in starting an EMS agency at my university. Whom do I contact?
    Columbia University EMS's bylaws and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have served as templates for numerous EMS agencies across the nation. Feel free to contact us about how to begin a collegiate EMS agency.
  • How do I join CU EMS?
    Visit our join section