Rowan EMS vehicles outside of their headquarters behind the Winans Hall on Rowan's campus. Staff Writer / Mackenzie Fitchett.

Rowan’s Emergency Medical Services squad took home the Gold Award at this year’s National Collegiate Emergency Medical Services Foundation (NCEMSF) conference in Pittsburgh, PA.  This is the third award Rowan EMS has brought back from this conference, starting with bronze in 2015 and silver in 2017.

The NCEMSF has a specific EMS ‘Ready Campus’ program that recognizes and commends collegiate EMS organizations who go above and beyond in emergency management and disaster preparedness. This program awards Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards to leading EMS organizations across the country.

This year, Rowan University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University were the only two colleges nominated for the Gold Award and Rowan was the first and only school to bring it home.  

“We all thought we would win,” First Lieutenant Salvatore Toppi said.

At his first conference in 2017, Rowan EMS brought home the Silver Award.

“We assumed it would either be our win or both schools would be taking home a Gold Award,” Toppi said.

In 2015, Rowan EMS was only one of two collegiate EMS organizations to ever receive the Bronze Award. Then in 2017, Rowan EMS was the first and only organization in the country to receive the Silver Award.  Since then, four other EMS organizations have received the Silver Award. Rowan University EMS is now the only collegiate EMS organization in the country to receive the Gold Award.

“I can’t help but be proud of the hard work and time that our members put into this award. It’s not just about a plaque on the wall, it’s knowing that we are among the best in the nation when it comes to collegiate EMS,” Rowan EMS Chief Vernon Howery said.  

The Gold Award was presented to Rowan EMS after completing multiple in-house trainings, multi-agency exercises and creating relationships with other collegiate EMS organizations for training purposes.  The most recent training conducted was an active shooter exercise on Rowan’s campus. Along with the department of public safety and the local fire department, Rowan EMS used their skills and training to better plan for similar incidents.

“The drill was designed to not only meet the requirements for the Gold Award, but it was also something that helped the organization,” Toppi said.  

Each award has a specific set of qualifications the EMS organizations must meet. The Bronze Award is given when an organization holds one annual drill and tabletop discussionsor a full-scale exercise on campus. The Silver Award requires other campus departments to be included in their drill or exercise, and for the Gold Award off-campus departments must be incorporated with all the previous requirements.  

“Watching the previous groups working on the Bronze and Silver Awards, I was pretty confident that we would achieve gold,” Howery said.  
“I was not surprised when we got word back from Pittsburgh that we achieved our goal. People often underestimate the ability of our group of volunteer university students because they are students… But they choose to set [goals] for themselves and despite any doubts by others, they prove that they can accomplish great things.”

Rowan EMS has also won the NCESMF title of HEARTSafe Campus in 2015 and re-certified for the title in 2018.  

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