Columbia University Emergency Medical Service (CU EMS) is a student-operated, New York State-certified, Basic Life Support volunteer ambulance corps. CUEMS provides prehospital emergency medical care, free of charge, to Columbia University’s Morningside Heights Campus, and the surrounding area, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Originally known as CAVA (Columbia Area Volunteer Ambulance), CUEMS has been serving the Columbia Community since 1968. The corps currently has approximately 45 active members and responds to over 800 emergency calls per year.
1. How do I call CUEMS?
CUEMS is dispatched by the Columbia University Department of Public Safety. To reach Columbia University Public Safety in an emergency, dial 99 from any campus phone, or 212-854-5555 from any other phone.
2. Where will CUEMS take me if I need medical care?
The destination depends on the severity of your condition.
If you have a minor illnesses or injuries during normal business hours, you will be transported to Urgent Care, at Health Services at Columbia, where you can quickly receive treatment.
If you need an Emergency Department (ED), you will be transported to St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center Emergency Department, located at 113th St and Amsterdam Ave.
If your condition requires specialty services not offered at St. Luke’s, you will be transported to the appropriate facility. (Note: NYC-EMS protocol prohibits us from transporting you to any hospital farther than 20 minutes away from the closest hospital to your location.)
3. Will I get billed for using CUEMS?
No. The CU EMS ambulance ALWAYS provides transport free of charge for its patient and their insurance companies, regardless of repeated use. Most NYC-EMS ambulances will charge a $500-$1000 base fee, plus the cost of any interventions they provide.
4. How can I join CUEMS?
You must be a certified EMT over 18 to join CUEMS. If you are not an EMT, you can register for a semester-long certification course that CUEMS hosts on Columbia’s campus. See the Join section of the CUEMS website.
5. Do CUEMS members get paid?
No, all of the work CUEMS does is volunteer work.