The New Paltz Rescue Squad (NPRS) has been providing advanced life support coverage to the Village and the Town of New Paltz since 1973, and many student volunteers at the Squad end up forming life-long relationships with the New Paltz community.
University Police Department Chief David Dugatkin ’85 (English) is a prime example. He first volunteered with the NPRS as SUNY New Paltz student more than 30 years ago. Dugatkin remained in the region, continued to serve the Squad after graduating, rose through the ranks to eventually serve as NPRS captain, and continues to work with the Rescue Squad to this day.
“There is a powerful synergy between the College and the Squad,” Dugatkin said. “It gets good, motivated workers local to the community and interested in developing medical and emergency service skills, and the students get invaluable experience that helps them begin careers in medicine and law, as well as opportunities to serve their community and do good, to meet new people and to expand their social experience in New Paltz.”
The Rescue Squad has expanded from a small staff, single-ambulance unit to a 24-hour care provider, thanks in part to the contribution of dozens of SUNY New Paltz student volunteers, who freely offer their time in hopes of serving the community and accruing valuable training and experience.
Jason Conway, chief of operations at the Squad, said he currently has about 25 SUNY New Paltz students on staff that make up roughly 30% of his total pool of volunteers.
“We find that the SUNY New Paltz students are especially enthusiastic,” Conway said. “They want to be here, and they want to help serve their community. They may only be here for three or four years, but they’re helping the people they see every day—store owners, retired people, even their fellow students on campus. It’s a nice way to give back.”
Volunteering with the Rescue Squad also offers students interested in medical careers valuable training opportunities, including EMT classes and ambulance driving lessons.
“Our volunteers get experience in basic patient care,” Conway said. “They get to see a whole bunch of situations, from a stubbed toe to a heart attack, and the up-close-and-personal patient interaction you just don’t get anywhere else—the things you can’t read in a book.”
Daniel Rosado ’16 (Sociology and Criminology) has volunteered with the Squad for most of his time as a New Paltz student. He said his interest in emergency medical service comes from his father, a former FDNY paramedic, but that his time with the Rescue Squad offers him more than the opportunity to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“Law enforcement is a career option I’ve wanted to pursue since I was in high school, and the experience in high-stress situations has helped me learn how to keep a level head at all times,” Rosado said. “But New Paltz Rescue also feels like a second home to me, thanks to the relationships I’ve made with current and past members.”