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Bard Senior Balances College Life with Work as an Emergency Medical Technician

Assistant Director of Bard Emergency Medical Services Brent Lewis ’09 Works on Local Ambulance Crew

Jennifer Wai-Lan Huang
Bard College senior Brent Lewis.  Image Credit: Peter Mauney
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—Bard College senior Brent Lewis shoulders a lot of responsibility. He is the assistant director of Bard’s Emergency Medical Services (BEMS), a graduating music major specializing in cello performance, and an emergency medical technician (EMT) with Northern Dutchess Paramedics Emergency Medical Services (NDP EMS). “I generally work about 36 hours a week for NDP EMS in approximately three 12-hour shifts,” says Lewis. “I like the fact that my work lets me experience the local community outside of Bard.” Lewis, who is originally from Long Valley, New Jersey, has acquired a deep appreciation of the Hudson Valley region. He plans to stay in the area after graduation as he prepares to apply for medical school.

Lewis has been working with NDP EMS since his junior year at Bard. He has recently taken an additional job with Mobile Life Support Services, a New Windsor–based company, at its Kingston station. Certified as an EMT, Lewis rides in an ambulance with a paramedic. “There is no typical call,” he says, “which results in a lot of on-the-job training because we’re practicing medical care in an uncontrolled environment.” Along with his work, Lewis must successfully balance his academic requirements, which include performing four concerts this year in fulfillment of his Senior Project in music. He is also on call for BEMS 24 hours per week. This rigorous schedule is good preparation for his plans to attend medical school. “As a kid, I spent a lot of time at the orthopedist’s office with broken bones and thought I wanted to become a doctor. But everyone told me I’d be in school forever and I managed to forget the idea,” he says. His interest in medical school was reignited, however, at Bard. “I realized that you can really delve into your classes at the college level and the work becomes engaging. Being in school until my thirties doesn’t sound so bad anymore,” he says.

Lewis came to Bard to study with Professor Emeritus and Visiting Professor of Music Luis Garcia-Renart. He originally planned on a double major in music and economics; however, his experience as an EMT has redirected him toward medical school. “I will play cello forever,” says Lewis, who has been playing since he was four years old. “But music can become very different when you have to do it to put food on the table and pay the electric bill.” Currently, his work as an EMT with NDP EMS and Mobile Life Support Services helps him pay his way through college. His role as assistant director of Bard EMS is a volunteer position.

A recipient of a four-year, merit-based Presidential Scholarship, the Betsy Richards Memorial Scholarship, and the Margaret Creal Shafer Prize, given by the Hudson Valley Chamber Music Circle, Lewis graduated from Delbarton School in Morristown, New Jersey, in 2005, and studied at the Manhattan School of Music’s preparatory program before coming to Bard. His mother is a public school music teacher, and his father works in the pharmaceutical industry. Lewis will be the first in his family to pursue a career in medicine.

Bard EMS is a Basic Life Support First Responder unit and is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (except when school is out of session). At least one supervisor and one technician are on duty during the day shift (10 a.m.–10 p.m.); one supervisor and two technicians are on duty during the night shift (10 p.m.–10 a.m.). They are dispatched through Bard security and have a 3–5 minute response time. The squad is advised by the BEMS Council, which consists of students, representatives from health services and residence life, Director of Security Ken Cooper, and Dean of Students Erin Cannan.

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This event was last updated on 02-16-2009