Saturday, April 20, 2024

Who is keeping students safe? A look at the UDECU program

NewsCampus NewsWho is keeping students safe? A look at the UDECU program

Staff Reporter

According to the university’s website, it is “constantly innovating to keep everyone safe, healthy, and comfortable in this rapidly changing world.” 

But how much do the students know about the people who take that statement as a directive? They are often not whom university students might expect: their own peers. 

According to its website, the University of Delaware Emergency Care Unit (UDECU) was founded in 1976 by sophomore at the university Kevin J. O’Neill. Until its founding, all non-emergency ambulance transportation at the university was overseen by officers from the university’s Department of Public Safety, and all the emergency transportation that required an ambulance was provided by the Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Company of Newark. 

As it is detailed on the UDECU website, “O’Neill believed that students could provide faster and better quality ambulance service and approached John Brook, UD Vice President for Government Relations, with the idea of starting a student-run university ambulance service.”

Currently, the UDECU consists of 50 student volunteers. Every spring and fall semester the program opens up an application to find new students that fit their requirements and share the same drive to help their community. The application process is competitive with 50% of applicants receiving an invitation for a formal interview, and 20% of those who get an interview receiving an offer for probationary membership. 

Photo courtesy of UDECU

This fall, the UDECU saw a new class of 12 probationary members. These members are expected to complete one probationary semester before they are evaluated by their supervisors to determine if they meet the requirements to become full members. 

Many students currently enrolled have felt that not enough of the student population knows much about who is responsible for their safety. 

Sarah Winiker, a senior human physiology major at the university, is the administrative coordinator for the UDECU program. Some of her responsibilities include overseeing the finances, public relations and recruitment aspects. 

“Most people just assume the only ambulances are from the city, and then they’ll see our shirts or see us at an involvement fair and be like ‘students do this?’” Winiker said.

This sentiment is shared among others in leadership positions with UDECU.

“I just wish that more people knew we were here serving our community,” Emily Wade, sophomore nursing major and head of public relations, said.

Photo courtesy of UDECU

Matthew Donovan, a field promotable technician with UDECU and senior computer science major, said one of his favorite ways to serve his community through the program is by doing football standbys. 

“Not many people know we are a thing, so being able to go out into the community and have interaction with the student body is pretty important,” Donovan said. 

He highlighted how the responsibility of being able to take care of peers when they are in the most need and “being a point of calm during their crisis is pretty humbling.” 

UDECU is essentially run by students. Winiker described it as a business.

“We’re students, we’re all around 20 years old and it’s just incredible,” Winiker said. 

These students take time out of their schedules to put the safety of their community first. 

“You can’t do everything on your own, you’re always going to need someone to help you out and it’s not bad to have people help you,” Donovan said.




  1. Good article. I taught EMT classes on campus long ago and was a student myself EDH 62-66. Keep doing such a great job.
    Diane Amberg Silverman


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