Christopher Faherty, president of Eagle EMS and A&S ’13, has been riding ambulances for almost a third of his life. Growing up in Little Silver, New Jersey, he began volunteering in the local fire department at the age of 14 to fulfill his Confirmation class community service requirement, transitioned to Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and hasn’t looked back since.
“I remember my first EMS call when I wasn’t an EMT yet. I was sitting around with some friends and the pagers went off for a call to another town, and they convinced me to go along,” Faherty said. “A man had fallen off the curb and cut up his face. It was the middle of summer, and I had this gut instinct when I was getting off the rig that I was finally realizing what I was involved in. This guy is hurt, he’s disoriented, and at one point I had this instinctual thought, ‘Oh Jeez, someone should call 911.’ And then it hit me and I had this realization: ‘Oh. I am 911.'”
Although he was initially reluctant to join EMS because he didn’t want to deal with “blood and guts,” Faherty quickly realized the passion he had for the work. Now, he’s well-known in Little Silver for his work as an EMT.
“I’m the EMS guy,” Faherty said. “I go home and people call me Doc. I’m usually in the top five responding EMTs back home, even when I’m living up in Boston.”
When Faherty left for Boston in the fall of 2009, he joined Eagle EMS quickly, looking for a group of students that might be able to replicate the family atmosphere of his ambulance company back home.
At the time, Eagle EMS had a small closet in Maloney Hall for storage of basic equipment, and a relatively low membership. The organization provided basic coverage at football games, basketball games, and large-scale concerts. Faherty became involved in Eagle EMS with his friend Kevin Wickersham, current vice president of Eagle EMS and A&S ’13, and the two volunteered to organize the annual National Collegiate EMS Week.
Later in their freshman year, the director of operations at the time stepped down, and Faherty and Wickersham petitioned then-Eagle EMS president Katie Davis, BC ’10, with the idea of both of them serving as co-directors.
“We went to Katie, and after some convincing, she made us co-directors of operations,” Faherty said. “The semester went on, and at the end of the year, Katie went out on a limb and picked me as president over some very qualified people.”
Since being named president of Eagle EMS in the spring of 2010, Faherty has dedicated countless hours to the organization. As a result, Eagle EMS has exploded in size and scope, and has been recognized at both the national and University level.
“With two years of Chris’ leadership, we have increased our physical footprint in the form of a larger office space, larger budget, and now a vehicle, but we have also started to branch out in ways that couldn’t have been imagined three years ago,” Wickersham said.
“This is my second year as president and we’ve doubled, almost tripled in size,” Faherty said. “We cover almost every event on campus, we have a non-transporting Class 5 ambulance, we’re a private ambulance service, we teach hundreds of people CPR per year, we’re doing about 25 continuing education classes per year, three or four EMT classes per year, we have about 1 percent of Massachusetts EMTs working for us, we’ve gained significant recognition in the University, and we won a national collegiate EMS award last year.”
To Faherty, these many achievements are a testament to the hard work of all of the members of Eagle EMS. But his friends won’t let him get off so modestly.
“Chris is passionate about his work in EMS as well as all areas of his life, and does not accept anything less than the very best from himself,” said Gus Godley, Eagle EMS member services coordinator and A&S ’13. “Chris was the key player in Eagle EMS obtaining our ambulance this year, as well as key improvements to the office and equipment of Eagle EMS over the last two years.”
“I have an immense amount of respect for Chris’s leadership abilities and dedication to the organization, and am honored to have been able to work alongside him for the past several years,” Wickersham said.
Faherty often works with the BCPD and has developed strong relationships with officers throughout the organization. Officer Daniel Morris, who often works the weekend night shift, spoke highly of Faherty as a leader.
“Chris played a fundamental role in accruing a Class 5 ambulance for Eagle EMS,” Morris said. “Chris’ leadership has allowed Eagle EMS to provide thousands of hours of EMS coverage for the Boston College community, and he has worked to build lasting relationships between Eagle EMS and many other departments.”
Beyond his administrative abilities and dedication, Faherty’s co-workers commended him for his skills as an EMT, as well.
“As an EMT, his skills are paralleled by few at BC, but he remains humble about his abilities even though he has multiple CPR saves with his volunteer company at home in New Jersey, and has changed the lives of many patients who he only sees for a matter of hours, or even minutes,” Godley said.
Faherty cited the expansion of the office in the winter of 2010 as a key factor in the development of the organization while he served as president.
“One of the toughest things about working with administrators is opening their eyes to the value of a student ambulance service, especially when they’re used to paid services,” Faherty said. “Dr. [Patrick] Rombalski [vice president for Student Affairs] recognized the benefit of it, and not even just for healthcare, but also for the purpose students feel as part of the organization.” After some convincing, the Eagle EMS closet was expanded into a full-sized office. The changes to the office brought a new wave of membership, a larger budget, and new equipment for the organization.
After two years with Faherty as president, Eagle EMS now provides full medical coverage at football games and almost 300 events per year, including club sports, concerts, dances, Relay for Life, and many more. “There really isn’t much that we don’t cover anymore,” he said. “If there’s a legitimate gathering of people, we’re happy to cover it.”
Now that membership has grown so extensively, Faherty said that Eagle EMS has been flourishing due to increased visibility. At the same time, the organization is turning internally to improve education for members.
Rombalski spoke highly of Faherty and his dedication to the University and to Eagle EMS.
“As a freshman, Chris immediately became involved in a leadership capacity in Eagle EMS and facilitated their move from a good student organization to one of the strongest, most well-run organizations on campus,” Rombalski said.
Faherty is currently studying neuroscience in the pre-medical program at BC, and hopes to attend medical school. His love for EMS and his involvement in Eagle EMS has given him a “second passion,” however.
“I love the energy of EMS, the split-second decisions,” Faherty said. “You’re on the third floor of a house and there’s a 50-year-old man having a heart attack-what do you do? It’s you, you, and you. You’re in that situation and everyone’s going to turn to you and say, what do we do?”
Faherty will step down as president next year so that the organization can continue to develop and become sustainable without him, and Wickersham will take his place as president. Faherty will serve as vehicle operations coordinator, focusing on the development of the new Class 5 ambulance that was purchased this past spring. “I think it’s time to get someone with fresh ideas,” he said. “I don’t want the organization to stagnate.”
It’s more than just the medical experience that keeps Faherty coming back for more. It’s also the relationships he builds-with patients, with administrators, and with fellow EMTs. Fostering relationships is a skill he has perfected as a Resident Assistant for the Office of Residential Life, and it’s one he has applied on his floor and to Eagle EMS.
“Setting aside all the accomplishments, to build a family in Eagle EMS was my ultimate goal, and I think we’ve accomplished that,” Faherty said.