Frequently Asked Questions

CUEMS is dispatched by the Columbia University Department of Public Safety. To reach Columbia University Public Safety in an emergency dial (212) 854-5555.

If your condition requires treatment in an emergency room, CUEMS will typically transport you to the Mount Sinai Morningside Emergency Department, located at 113th St and Amsterdam Ave. However, if your condition potentially requires specialty services we will directly transport you to the appropriate facility. Note, however, that NYC-EMS protocol prohibits us from transporting you to any hospital more than 20 minutes away from the closest hospital to your location. If your condition is minor illness or injury and occurs during normal business hours, we can transport you to Columbia Health Services, where you can quickly receive treatment from Columbia University's Morningside campus medical staff.

The CUEMS ambulance provides transport free of charge for its patients and their insurance companies, regardless of repeated use.

Most other ambulances in New York City will charge a $500-$1000 as a base fee, plus the cost of any treatments. CUEMS will not cover these charges if we are not available, or not sent for your emergency. Patients should speak to their insurance companies regarding payment of such bills.

By law, the members of CUEMS are required to maintain confidentiality with regard to all of our patients. CUEMS is not authorized to discuss you or your medical emergency with your parents, your friends, your deans or even the police, if they are not involved in your medical care.

It is not uncommon to feel embarrassed, but this should never prevent you from calling for an ambulance if you need it. If you are hurt or ill, we are here to help. Your situation will be handled with medical professionalism and strict confidentiality. If you think you need emergency medical attention, you should call for an ambulance immediately.

This is a common issue encountered within small communities. By law, EMTs cannot reveal information about patients to those who are not directly related to improving the patients' health. Furthermore, your level of care will remain the same, regardless of whether you know the EMTs on duty or not.

CUEMS provides medical services to the Columbia University campus and dormitories, primarily between 110th St and 125th St. However, we respond to any emergencies in the greater Morningside area.

CUEMS emergency medical technicians *are* regular EMTs. We are state-certified through the same 120-hour EMT course and test that all NYC-EMS EMTs are required to take. In addition all CUEMS EMTs receive extensive additional training and continuing education in order to keep their skills sharp and maximize their ability to aid the Columbia community.

When you call 212-854-5555 for a medical emergency, Columbia University Public Safety will respond. The NYPD will only be called by the CUEMS crew in the event that they encounter a criminal matter or a serious threat to their safety.

The ambulance is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Regardless of hour or day, a call to CUEMS will result in speedy response.

If you dial 911, CUEMS will not receive your call. A New York City ambulance, along with the NYPD, will be dispatched for your emergency. NYC-EMS is not familiar with the layout of the campus or the best ways to access different buildings and as such, they will likely take longer to respond. For this reason, we recommend contacting CUEMS if you are located within our service area west of Morningside Park between 110th to 125th street.

Our ambulance will arrive on scene within minutes of a call. Our protocols require us to be enroute within 4 minutes of receiving a call. Since we know the University locations and the speediest routes, we will typically reach the patient 3 to 4 times faster than any NYC-EMS ambulance.

Columbia University EMS's bylaws and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have served as templates for numerous EMS agencies across the nation. Feel free to visit out Contact page and send us any questions you may have about how to begin a collegiate EMS agency.

Columbia University Emergency Medical Service (CUEMS) was formerly known as Columbia Area Volunteer Ambulance (CAVA). Many Columbia community members still refer to us by this name, and many visitors on our campus may even hear our services referred to as "CAVAing." Despite the common use of this phrase, our official designation at this time is CUEMS.

No. CUEMS will respond to anyone who calls our dispatch number. This means we primarily serve those affiliated with Columbia University, including students, faculty, and staff. However, we will also respond to those not affiliated if they call our emergency dispatch number and are located in the greater Morningside area.

No. Less than 20% of our calls are alcohol-related emergencies. CUEMS responds to a wide variety of medical emergencies on Columbia University's Morningside campus. In the past year we have responded to many slips and falls as well as a host of panic attacks, fainting spells, seizures, allergic reactions, diabetic emergencies, cardiac emergencies, traumatic injuries, sexual assaults, and suicide attempts/ideations.

CUEMS is comprised entirely of Columbia University undergraduate students who volunteer their time to ensure the safety of the campus community. Our members may be students studying pre-med or other academic topics of interest. At this time, CUEMS has members who are studying many subjects, including finance, philosophy, mechanical engineering, computer science, linguistics, anthropology, English literature, and Latin American languages and cultures.