Students and alumni celebrate 15th anniversary of the WEMS program

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Willamette Emergency Medical Services program (WEMS), alumni returned to Willamette University earlier this month to share their post-graduation experiences with students.

WEMS teamed up with the Career Center’s AspiringDox program to host a panel discussion by former WEMS members Dr. Eric Reid ’99, Jason Snider ’99 and Tyler Runyon ’11.

Bart Grabman ’12, a biology major, helped plan the event. Having worked as an EMT in high school, he says the uniqueness of Willamette’s program was an incentive for him to enroll here.

“WEMS is a great opportunity for anyone interested in a medical career to get hands-on experience with real people,” Grabman says. “Willamette is one of only a few small liberal arts schools on the West Coast and the only school in the state to have this kind of program.”

Alumni also discussed how the program helped launch their successful careers.

Snider was the founding director of WEMS as a Willamette student in 1997, and now, as an administrator at the Beaverton office of Kaiser Permanente Northwest, he manages 350 physicians and staff. For Snider, the emergency medical services program created a leadership opportunity that enabled him learn to work with people.

“I am a strong believer in having both an academic background and a solid set of experience and skills that are practical,” he says.

Reid, a urological surgeon, advised students on ways to make their medical school applications distinctive — adding that not all applicants have to be a pre-health major.

“You might stand out from the pile of medical school applications if you do something you love at Willamette, while also completing all the necessary requirements for medical school,” he says.

Students celebrated the 15th anniversary of the WEMS program with cake, raffle prizes and a skills competition. WEMS members demonstrated their emergency response abilities by racing to backboard a student. The technique is used to stabilize a patient with a spinal injury during transport, preventing further injury.

WEMS provides life-saving emergency medical care to the Willamette community. The program allows students to feel safe calling for help by minimizing the consequences of outside agencies becoming involved. Members have the opportunity to take First Responder and other training courses, respond to on-campus emergencies and play an active role as a leader within the group.