Undergraduate Naomi Fener is a black cloud, EMT parlance for one whose shift is invariably a busy one. Working a shift with a black cloud means gaining experience with cardiac arrests and gunshot wounds. Working a shift with a white cloud offers a chance to catch up on your homework.
Fener didn't expect to be on UVM's Rescue squad when she came to college. She didn't expect to be studying toward a master's in nursing because direct work with patients is her career goal. Like many students, she did a full tour of majors — undecided, anthropology, sociology, math (for a week), English, and now psychology in preparation for work in nursing.
Rescue draws students from a wide range of fields of study. But while many have majors in the sciences or healthcare-related fields, Rescue member Gregory Wasserman points out a more general career aspiration shared by the crew. "We see people who don't want desk jobs. We want to be out there and involved with people," he says.
Rescue has been a transformative experience for Fener in many ways. She says being on the squad has pulled her out of a shell. The peer teaching model demands reaching out and asking more experienced students and alumni for training. "I had three alums firing questions at me on a test, that's pretty traumatizing," she says.
Black cloud status means seeing a lot, and Fener has seen the worst of it on calls. But for all of the ways she's been changed by Rescue, Fener says it was her father's revelation that his daughter checked the oil on the ambulance that was the last straw for him. He wrinkled his brow and asked, "Who are you?"