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News & Events for the Smith College Community
Campus Life May 20, 2021

Sophie Flomenbaum ’21: A First Responder

Photograph by Arshiyan Alam Laaj ’23

For Sophie Flomenbaum ’21, seeing a student emergency medical services organization she founded begin its work on campus has been the highlight of her time at Smith.

Having the group begin operations this semester “was the moment where I looked back and thought, Wow! That happened,” says Flomenbaum, a psychology major and certified emergency medical technician.

She and other members of Smith College Emergency Medical Services volunteered at two community COVID-19 vaccination clinics held at Smith this spring—their first hands-on assignments. Group members helped observe people for any problematic reactions after they received their shots, and also helped direct participants to clinic sign-in and waiting areas.

Heading up a campus EMS organization has helped her develop leadership and problem-solving skills, Flomenbaum says: “It’s that newfound sense of, I can do things!”

She decided to launch the student emergency medical services group in her sophomore year, after an online search revealed there had not been an active EMS organization on campus since about 2015.

Since founding the group, Flomenbaum estimates she’s spent “about a coursework’s amount of work” each semester setting goals for SCEMS, recruiting members and collaborating with staff in Campus Safety, the Schacht Center for Health and Wellness, and Smith’s Health Professions Advising Program on designing training protocols and community programs. She also spent time researching how student EMT organizations operate on other campuses, as well as the history of Smith’s previous EMT organization.

Flomenbaum credits fellow SCEMS members Grace Mosley ’22 and Breona Martin ’23 with helping her get the group up and running. In addition to responding to medical emergencies with Campus Safety, the organization—which has about 80 total members—aims to generate greater student interest in and knowledge about emergency medicine and first aid.

Elly Mons, director of Smith’s Health Professions Advising Program, says “having a campus-based student-run EMS organization offers a win-win for the students and the college community.

“We have many students who are either already certified EMTs or who pursue the certification while they are at Smith,” Mons notes. “A campus-based organization makes it possible for certified students to participate during the year, rather than having that experience during the summers only. Having experienced students supporting and mentoring prospective students via SCEMS is also very valuable.”

Flomenbaum, who grew up outside of Boston, has long had an interest in health care and emergency medicine. During her time at Smith, she’s also been able to explore other fields, including film studies and chemistry.

The past year of the pandemic has been a challenging time to run a student-run EMS organization, Flomenbaum says. While planned ride-alongs with Campus Safety officers and in-person training sessions have been on hold, SCEMS has hosted virtual talks with student EMTs and alums working in emergency medicine.

After long months of coping with distance, volunteering in-person at the recent vaccine clinic “felt so impactful,” Flomenbaum says. “It felt great to be able to congratulate people on getting their vaccines and watch the process unfold.”

This fall, she plans to work with a global health organization in Boston and will also stay active as an EMT. Eventually she hopes to go to medical school.

Her advice for new Smith students?

“Remember to prioritize yourself whenever possible,” Flomenbaum says. “As an EMT you learn to make sure you are okay before you can help others. That’s true for students at Smith—and everywhere.”