Peter Florio graduated from Vassar College in 2014 with a double major in physics and astronomy and a correlate sequence in mathematics. During his time at Vassar he served as Senior Supervisor for Campus Patrol, an EMS 1 for VCEMS, and Equipment Officer for VCEMS. Peter is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Medical Physics at The University of Pennsylvania.
What made you decide to join VCEMS and what was your favorite part?
My decision to join VCEMS was twofold. It was partly because of the rapport that I developed with Security while working on Patrol. I enjoyed the relationship I built with them through responding to various events (although admittedly they were rare, even working weekends). The other half was that some of my friends were already on EMS and were enjoying it. Honestly though, when it came down to it I had a summer free between sophomore and junior year (physics internships are notoriously hard to get) and I was already looking at rapid EMS courses, so it worked out. Looking back, I wish I’d joined earlier. My favorite part of VCEMS was being on call for Halloween and/or Founders Day. Both days present a high volume of calls, so you get to put your skills to the test! Plus they’re a whole lot of fun if you’re with your friends, which I was fortunate enough to be. By extension, hands down, the best part of VCEMS is the friends you make (and the bonding after 3AM calls)!
What is the most important thing you’ve learned from VCEMS?
Never assume. The information you get from the Campus Response Center in the dispatch is different from what you’ll imagine, and may different from what the patient will tell you! Calls can change direction very quickly and you should always take a moment to think about all possible causes of a situation, instead of what you see on the surface, both in EMS and in general.
How has your experience volunteering with VCEMS influenced your current work or future career plans?
Incredibly. I have no doubt that had I not joined VCEMS I would not currently be studying medical physics (aside – medical physics is, very briefly, using high energy particles to kill malignant tumors). VCEMS gave me my first exposure to medicine (not going to lie, Scrubs also played a small part) and once I found out how much I enjoyed it, I was able to find a field that combined medicine with what I was already studying.
Words of advice to current members?
EMS is teamwork, so work as a team. Medicine is a competitive field, but save that for the classroom. If you spend your time trying to show up others you’ll only end up lessening the efficacy of your crew as a whole. It’s fine to be ambitious, but don’t be ambitious to the point that your are shutting down others. Also, never be afraid to ask questions! If something seems strange/weird/counter-intuitive/dangerous to you, speak up! Another part of being a team is recognizing both strengths and weaknesses and no one should ever be afraid to ask questions for fear of seeming less informed or irritating someone.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Enjoy your time at Vassar! A common (but as I’m finding accurate) cliché is that you don’t enjoy what you have until it’s gone. To quote my friend Hunter, who was able to articulate this much better than I, “It’s quite sad after graduation, when you realize people you saw daily are no longer meeting you at the Deece for dinner. So, especially senior year you should make the most of every week”.
If you would like to continue this conversation with Peter, feel free to shoot him an e-mail at email@example.com.