It’s No Debate: Tulane Debate Education Society Makes a Big Impact by Haneen Islam

Want to volunteer as a debate judge? Contact Professor Ryan McBride at: The tournament is October 24th and there will be a training session (with pizza!) the week before. Prior debate experience is a plus, but not required. Read more about the Tulane Debate Education Society below!


Among Tulane’s many opportunities for community service is the Tulane Debate Education Society headed by Ryan McBride, a professor who focuses on classical rhetoric. The Tulane Debate Education Society is devoted to coaching New Orleans middle school students in the art of debate and helping to host tournaments. It is a great opportunity for Tulane students and middle school debaters to develop their skills as speakers and thinkers.

The Tulane Debate Education Society formed six years ago after Professor McBride’s piloted a new service-learning class called “Aristotle in New Orleans,” which involved coaching middle school students. After taking the class, a number of students decided that they wanted to continue coaching, so with McBride, they started the Tulane Debate Education Society. “We offer middle school students the opportunity to develop public speaking skills, to develop their critical thinking skills and to find their voices,” McBride said.

The Tulane Debate Education Society seeks to stimulate young minds and encourage them to think about things that they are normally detached from in their daily lives. One might expect that topics chosen for middle school debate tournaments would be “easy,” but that is definitely not the case here. “I remember going to one middle school and the coaches were like, ‘Okay, you want to debate about soft cookies versus hard cookies?’ And this seventh grade kid said, ‘I want to debate about Syria,” McBride said.

The two topics that have been selected for the October 2015 tournament are by no means easy sailing: the first one asks if students believe that “Computer Science should be a required class for high school graduation,” while the second addresses an even more controversial issue, that is, whether “the American nuclear deal with Iran will do more harm than good.” This tournament is not the first time that these students have debated such difficult topics. McBride explained how students have frequently debated central issues such as the Common Core, immigration laws, and the Electoral College, among other similarly engaging topics.


The Tulane Debate Education Society has come a long way in 6 years, from holding one tournament per semester for only three schools to now hosting two middle school tournaments each semester with 16 schools. Large numbers of Tulane students are coaching, organizing and judging.

The Society also makes a meaningful impact on Tulane students. They are given the opportunity to employ their skills as college students simultaneously earn academic credits and fulfill their 2nd tier service graduation requirement for their internship, while building a strong bond with the local community. It is a challenging, meaningful, and thrilling prospect that gives Tulane students the chance to “grow and have a deeper understanding of not only the debate format but of the kids of New Orleans,” said McBride.

Interested? Be a judge for the upcoming tournament on October 24th! Judges are not required to have any specific qualifications. Having former debate experience will help, but is not required. There will be a “pizza-fueled” training session for interested volunteers! For more information, contact Professor McBride at

Written by Haneen Islam, a freshman studying Political Science. Haneen is a student assistant for the Public Service Internships and International Programs at CPS. 

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Summer Internship with Top Box Foods by Kelsey Scurlock

Top Box Foods New Orleans is a non-profit organization based in New Orleans that aims to alleviate the problem of food inequality in the city. New Orleans is known as the United States’ largest food desert. The American Nutrition Association defined food deserts as “parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas”.[1] This is largely due to the fact that some places are scarce on grocery stores and food markets. The Lower Ninth Ward is known as the city’s most affected area because it takes three bus stops to get to the nearest grocery store and many residents do not own cars. Areas like the Lower Ninth Ward are what categorize New Orleans as the largest food desert in the country. Top Box Foods aims to alleviate these problems by providing affordable, healthy, and high-quality foods to New Orleans residents. The organization also encourages community growth through giving 5% of all proceeds back to the partner sites.

top box logoThough the branch of Top Box Foods I work for is located in New Orleans, the organization actually was founded in Chicago by Chris Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy. The organization launched in May of 2012 after he resigned from the Merchandise Mart located in Chicago. Chris worked in agriculture his whole career. He eventually became president of Merchandise Mart and ran it for 25 years. Many people assumed Kennedy would run for governor after he retired from his job. However, when he made a special announcement after his retirement, he introduced the organization Top Box Foods. Top Box Foods Chicago has been active for three years now. The organization decided to start a branch in New Orleans when Connor Casas, a friend of Chris Kennedy’s son, decided to go to Tulane University. Casas discussed with Chris about how New Orleans would really benefit from an organization like Top Box Foods. Therefore, Top Box Foods New Orleans started in July of 2013. This July, we are celebrating our 2nd anniversary. Since Top Box Foods New Orleans was founded by college students, donors very much so helped to start the organization. The Kennedy family contributed funds and many other wealthy New Orleans residents contributed funds to the starting of Top Box Foods in New Orleans.


                The structure of Top Box is very important for the organization to be successful. The most important aspect of the organization is the produce. Top Box has a produce supplier that is located in Baton Rouge. The supplier is Capital City Produce. The supplier supplies the produce in all of our boxes. Top Box currently has seven boxes. The boxes are family, small family, vegetable, fruit, steak, chicken, and fish boxes. Sometimes we have seasonal boxes such as the New Year’s Resolution box and the Easter box. Top Box buys the food at wholesale prices and then arranges them into different boxes. The total contents of the boxes are at the most 60% cheaper than if you bought the same foods from a grocery store. The Top Box New Orleans staff consists of about five Tulane students who are in charge of different aspects of the company. Top Box can also expect two or three student interns each semester. Some staff members attend churches during the weekend and give a presentation on how the organization works. They then hand out order forms for anyone who is interested in buying the boxes. Top Box finds delivery locations that are in close range to all churches being served in the communities involved. Most of the time the delivery location is a church. Once Top Box receives all of the order forms for the month, a staff member sends the forms to the supplier so the supplier will know how many boxes to bring to the delivery sites on the second Saturday of each month. Most of our customers come from low-income communities which we assumed would be the case because the food desert mostly affects low-income communities. Many of our customers also attend church since that is our main way of promoting the organization. We do, however, have many Tulane students ordering boxes because Tulane students run the organization and we have a delivery location within walking distance from campus.

Top Box Foods makes money to keep it running through donations and by selling the foods at a very small profit margin. Sam Heyman explained to me in detail how Top Box is able to run due to low costs. “Top Box has no overhead costs. They Receive office space for free from Café Reconcile and none of the directors or volunteers are paid at this point. The only costs Top Box incurs are those of buying the boxes, shipping them, and delivering them”. So far this system has kept the organization running smoothly but some heads of the organization are looking into raising more revenue by putting ads on fliers. The organization would like to make more profits and expand some departments of the organization. The organization also does a great job of letting their finance interns gain some experience. The interns get to communicate with local banks, write checks for the partner sites, and do accounting work for the organization. Also, I get to help collect forms of payment and record them. Top Box accepts cash, checks, credit card, debit cards, and even SNAP food stamps. All organizations mostly run on money so interning with this non-profit is very beneficial to any finance major.

A great aspect of Top Box Foods is that it relies on the help of volunteers. The boxes are delivered on the second Saturday of each month. Since there are about only 7 staff members this summer, we rely on college students to volunteer with us on delivery days. We need volunteers to find the boxes customers ordered and bring them to their car. We have had about twenty volunteers each month this summer. Volunteering is a great way for students to be involved in the community and explore a bit of New Orleans.


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Summer Internship with Woodlands Conservancy by Carleen Schwarz

The Woodlands Conservancy was established as a nonprofit over a decade ago in 2001 yet began in 1997 as a regional grassroots effort to preserve and plan for smart growth.  Located in the English Turn peninsula of Belle Chasse, they control one of the last stands of bottomland hardwood forests in Louisiana.


The organization controls two separate plots of land totaling approximately 800 acres: The Woodlands Trail and Park Bird Sanctuary and The Delacroix Preserve.  The organization was first started via a land trust with Plaquemines Parish, through which they created the 609-acre Woodlands Trail and Park.  Unlike the Woodlands Trail land, which is essentially leased from the parish, The Woodlands Conservancy owns The Delacroix Preserve.  Board member Lee Dupont and his wife gifted the 190 acres to the organization in 2013.

Their official mission statement is “to preserve and develop an ecosystem dedicated to creating daily public opportunities for recreation, ecotourism, and education in a natural and historic setting.  The vision of Woodlands Conservancy is to be the regional model for the conservation of hardwood forests, and a leader in the advocacy and preservation of Louisiana’s coastal forest ecosystems.”

Despite its small size, the Woodlands Conservancy provides numerous invaluable services to the New Orleans area and beyond.  The Woodlands Trail and Park provides hiking and equestrian trails that over 32,650 people have visited in the past 5 years.  These natural paths are home to the NOLA Running Series’ annual Wild Pig Trail Run, which had over 300 participants in 2015.  Local high school track and cross-country teams also utilize the trails for weekly runs.  Other groups, ranging from boy scout troops to bird watchers, also take advantage of the vast recreational and educational opportunities available.Woodlands

The Woodlands Conservancy also serves thousands of people who have never stepped foot on its land.  By conserving and restoring these 800 acres of wetlands the organization protects one of the largest forests between open water and the city of New Orleans.  With continual wetland loss, this land will be the most important hurricane buffer in the area, therefore benefiting countless people by minimizing storm surge impacts.

A fourteen-person board, including president Katie Rosenblum, vice president Lee Dupont, treasurer Gail Serauskas, and secretary Etheldreda Culpepper Smith run the Woodlands Conservancy.  Currently, only executive director Katie Brasted staffs the office on a daily basis and performs much of the organization’s core activities.  This year, the organization received a grant to hire a full-time field biologist to conduct work controlling invasive species in the Woodlands Park and Delacroix Preserve.  Additionally, a group of core volunteers assist with bi-monthly bird banding studies.

As a non-profit organization, funding is derived from the donations of individuals, corporations, foundations, and government organizations.  Over 40 corporations, including major businesses such as AT&T, Walmart, Chevron, and Entergy, have been key contributors.  Alternative fundraising methods exemplify the creativity of the staff and community involvement that has been instrumental in the Conservancy’s success.  For example, Mignon Faget designed a line of Palmetto shaped jewelry (a prominent plant in bottomland hardwood forests) that are available for purchase on the website, from which a portion of the proceeds go to the Woodlands Conservancy.  From these sources, they have raised $1.6 million specifically for restoration work/programs, with more funds raised for various other projects.

As an environmental nonprofit, this organization is directly related to my field of study in Environmental Biology, including courses such as Wetlands and Estuarine Ecosystems, Theories and Methods of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Conservation Biology.  This past week, I was given the opportunity to assist Dr. Tom Huggins, director of the UCLA Herbarium, conduct fieldwork in Woodlands Park.  The data derived from the vegetation surveys we performed will be included in the scientific paper he is currently working on.  I gained hands on experience in field research methods, such as creating transects and point identification of various plants.

Executive director Katie Brasted summarized their significance as “The Woodlands Conservancy helps protect one of the most important forests still standing in southeast Louisiana.”  This organization provides a public service by actively restoring and conserving this land, putting countless hours and funds towards defending this land and improving its health.

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Summer Internship with Center for Restorative Approaches by Olivia Simkins

The Center for Restorative Approaches’ mission is to “nurture our humanity; one person, one community, one circle at a time.”


The CRA was founded in 2008, as a part of Neighborhood Housing Services, a non-profit that believes in empowering the community through making ties to organizations and restoring pride and confidence in the New Orleans Neighborhood. The Neighborhood Housing Services sponsors organizations that they believe will provide positive results effectively, and foster environments that are built with honesty and respect; qualities that the CRA pursues at every level of their work. In 2013, the CRA moved to the fiscal sponsorship of the GoodWork Network, which provides business development services to minority groups throughout Louisiana. From there, the organization has achieved and maintained their goal of helping people to uncover their “natural ability to respond to destructive behavior in constructive ways” through grants and volunteered time and resources.

The Center for Restorative Approaches (CRA) works to provide the New Orleans community, primarily school environments, but also neighborhoods and community centers (wherever they receive referrals) with the tools, training, and resources to build productive and stable relationships. The goal is to decrease the amount of violence, crime, and conflict New Orleans has seen and struggled with for so long. As opposed to destructive communication techniques, the organization fosters the ability within members of the community to develop their own solutions and ways of correcting harm that isn’t detrimental to families, friends, and the community as a whole. In short, the CRA teaches alternatives to undesirable actions, and addresses some of the most concerning issues that surround the youth of this city.

One of the things I find to be the most important aspect of the CRA is that it is truly not an invasive organization and is incredibly respectful and conscious about the way it handles its work. They also network within the community so that those who have been through the CRA’s training can meet with members of their own community to help assist in the resolution, not an outside representative, which I think really encourages the success of the organization and its message, especially within the New Orleans community where most of the outreach is being done with young, low-income, African American youth. When the CRA is called in to help resolve a conflict, every aspect and step they take is in collaboration with those who have been affected, and their goal is to help them come to a solution or a resolution, not to provide it. The restorative methods allow for people to listen, to be heard, and to work out the conflict in the healthiest way possible. Restorative Approaches are a philosophy sprouting from Restorative Justice, and are “processes and strategies used in workplaces, schools, organizations, and the justice system to help repair harm and build or strengthen relationships. These processes focus on helping people to cooperate, to take responsibility for personal actions, and to resolve conflict.” The CRA discourages doing anything “to or for people; instead, we should do things with people”. It also provides a new outlook on conflict, as it is seen as an opportunity for relationship strengthening and repair. The CRA teaches people to recognize that the differences we have can be harnessed and used to build a community into one vibrant and lively and prosperous one, as opposed to being destructive and harmful towards one another for pride, money, attention, or any reason.

The actual services provided by the CRA depends upon the situation, but they range from preventative conflict resolution to intervention. A huge goal of the organization is to reduce suspension rates within schools, because 43% of students who entered high school with 3 suspensions on their record end up dropping out” (School of Education at Johns Hopkins), and 1 in 10 males who drop out of high school end up incarcerated. So the CRA is trying to stop the school to prison pipeline that is way too common in New Orleans. Sometimes, when the CRA is called in, the student’s willingness to comply and resolve the issue that occurred will stand as an alternative to their suspension, which is great because punishment for doing something bad atschool by being kicked out of school will never foster change in the right direction. One exciting and recent development for the CRA is that is has officially partnered with the City of New Orleans, bringing Restorative Approaches into all Orleans Parish Schools, under Mayor Landrieu’s Nola for Life Initiative and has allowed for more Whole School Approaches, where the entire staff and student body is able to benefit from the information put forth by the CRA, which will be a huge public service to the city of New Orleans .

CRA logoThe physical bodies of the CRA is a small number. There are 6 permanent staff members, and then interns and volunteers who donate their time to the cause, and can choose to do more behind the scenes work or to be on call for resolutions. The techniques used by the CRA include Solution Circles, which bring individuals who are feeling tension together so as to prevent a crime, conflict, or act of violence. It allows people to talk about what happened, how they were affected and felt, and what they think they can do to move forward. A Community Conference brings together everyone who has been affected by a crime, conflict, or act of violence that has actually occurred, again being listened to and heard, and then attempting to resolve and repair the harm that has been done in the best way possible. The CRA also provides training for those who are interested in facilitating these circles, and the training is open to anyone interested in learning productive communication techniques.

My work with the CRA has not been in facilitating the conflict resolution circles, but has been rewarding and educational nonetheless. I took on a publishing internship with the CRA, so I have been working on editing and re-orienting the training materials, lessons, and power points that they bring into the schools and actually use during the training for facilitations, the actual facilitations, and the school lessons. Through this, I have gotten very familiar and comfortable with the methods, information, and techniques used by the CRA, and it has connected to both my Linguistics and English majors because the use of language in certain spaces and environments, what is appropriate and what is not, what leads to stigmatizations, what language

causes conflict, etc. is something very stressed by the CRA as they make sure that definitions are clearly understood by all. Furthermore, the actual editing and re-orienting of the materials gives me access to the publishing world, which has always been something I’m potentially interested in pursuing. Additionally, the CRA has a Summer Initiative Training Session coming up, and I have been working on the event planning for that, and will be attending it.

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Summer Internship with LOOP: Island in the Sun by Ethan Champagne

Island in the Sun

            Nestled in New Orleans’ City Park on a little island lies the Louisiana Outdoors Outreach Program, or LOOP as it’s affectionately known.  The island itself is not tremendously secluded, but you do get a special degree of separation while you are there that makes you feel as if you’re somewhere far away on your own private playground.  Everywhere you look there is a smiling, sun-touched face with sweat rolling down and the sound of laughter joins the symphony of insects. On this island is where I would spend the first half of the scorching, sticky Louisiana summer to learn more about what it means to trust, empower, and serve others.

LOOP is the pride and joy of all who work there, but will always be remembered as the baby of the late founder, Dan Forman. Mr. Forman is originally from Rhode Island, but found himself deeply in love with the music and culture of New Orleans and decided to make it his home in 1997. Mr. Forman believed that lessons learned through outdoor education had the potential to make a lasting impact on the lives of the city’s poor who are often cursed with a cycle of violence and dysfunction. That year, Mr. Forman began work with an emerging organization funded by NORD (New Orleans Recreation Department) that began establishing outdoor recreation facilities for inner-city schools all while operating on a whopping $5,000 operating budget.  Participants in the program would engage in traditional classroom-style environmental education before progressing to educational experiences outdoors through canoeing and fishing trips and a plethora of other activities.

Loop 1

            Seven years later, LOOP would be born out of Mr. Forman’s frustrations with city administration as well as a request by the then Lieutenant Governor, Mitch Landrieu. Mr. Landrieu’s request was for a similar program that could be adopted by the Louisiana Office of State Parks.  The result was a program that combined typical classroom learning, which would be re-enforced by physical outdoor experiences that would foster social-emotional growth. Shortly after its official creation, the program would experience the bitter repercussions of Hurricane Katrina with the rest of the city, but would also gain an important financial stabilizer from the expanding charter school system that recognized the important role that LOOP could play. The funds from the charter schools would turn into the nonprofit support for the program, Friends of LOOP. Friends of LOOP played a crucial role then and now as the organization faces looming state budget cuts.

In the time after Mr. Forman’s passing in 2012, the organization is still out to fulfill their mission “to provide underserved youth with an opportunity for social-emotional growth through outdoor education”. The program manages City Park’s high ropes challenge course as a way to diversify outdoor education as well as a marketing tool to keep different groups interested in coming out.

During the summers, past LOOP participants from partner schools and the larger community are encouraged to apply to participate in LOOP’s Adventure Challenge Leadership Training (ACLT). The target population of the program is youth in Greater New Orleans aged anywhere from 14-19.  Some may be at risk of dropping out, or have dropped out and returned.  As the program director Valerie Bodet describes it, “LOOP is a place for these youth to try and try again in an environment that tells them that they can succeed. For a lot of them, they have never known what that feels like, so LOOP provides a unique experience for empowerment.”

Loop 3

Youth who are accepted are given a thorough introduction to challenge course safety and facilitation training with live hours belaying. At the conclusion of the internship, LOOP interns are given a skills test where they are able to demonstrate their technical skills knowledge to the staff. The staff combines evaluations from the skills test along with internship long observations of soft skills to make a decision on potentially hiring some of the interns who score highly to work for LOOP. While participating in the internship, the students gain professional work experience and references from all of the trained staff members who run the training as well as tangible belay skills and more abstract social soft skills. The focus with the internship here is directly in line with the mission, and that is to provide outdoor learning over a much longer period of time in hopes that it will foster a lifelong passion for all learning.

My particular role with LOOP this summer has been multi-faceted. On one hand, I am a full-fledged ACLT ropes course intern alongside the students, and a fundraising intern on the other to observe the grant writing and application process. My work with the interns was more of a mentorship through the ACLT training as myself and the staff members tried to pick at least two students to keep under our wing for training and help them through a project or work through a skill. This part of my internship was actually one of my favorites as it gave me a refreshing change of perspective from learning about the different lives of the youth in New Orleans.

LOOP is an outreach program such that it fosters growth among youth in the New Orleans community, but LOOP also reaches out to other organization in New Orleans committed to empowerment such at Grow Dat Farms and the Lighthouse Louisiana summer camp for visually impaired. During my time with LOOP, we have worked extensively with these organizations through our programming and that work has truly taught me a lesson in helping your neighbor. This is what LOOP is truly about – building a community of service.

The end of June 2015 marks an important time in LOOP’s history – the organization will find out in the next couple of days if they will be able to continue outdoor education on the magic island in City Park. As a fundraising intern, I’ve observed the  application process for a Propeller Foundation incubation , which has complimented my public health studies in nonprofit fundraising.  I’ve also been able to observe some of the day-to-day operations of Louisiana State Parks officials as well as the basic structure as a department of the state. My hope is that this incredible organization survives and that I will still be able to volunteer my time with LOOP on the island in City Park.

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New SISE Internship Seminar Engages Students Inside and Outside of the Classroom by Julia Turkevich

Social Innovation & Social Entrepreneurship is a field that combines business mindsets with activism and where social justice and social entrepreneurship interact. This semester, a small group of SISE students doing internships through the Center for Public Service attend the required weekly SISE academic seminar to discuss challenges faced at their public service internship and their role in a greater scheme of community engagement.  Annie Heinrichs and Haley Burns, two of the seminar students, shared their experiences from their internship placements and academic seminar, and expressed the applicable value of the weekly discussions to their internship experiences.

Annie Heinrichs is a sophomore studying Communications. With a long-term career goal of working in a nonprofit organization, her academic advisor recommended the public service internship with a focus in SISE. She interns at A’s and Aces, a nonprofit that provides New Orleans youth academic support as well as tennis instruction. As the Tennis Tournament Administrator intern, she has been planning a spring tennis tournament event for the organization by serving as a liaison between donors, community partners, volunteers, and A’s & Aces staff and by creating marketing material. She is very welcomed at her internship placement and feels that her opinions are valued, even as an intern.

SISE article_fund 17Haley Burns is a senior studying History and International Development, with a minor in Urban Studies. After her start from the Tulane New Day Challenge, Haley is now the founder and executive director of Fund 17, a nonprofit that offers micro loans to independent entrepreneurs in New Orleans. These businesses are usually home-run and free-lance, like artisan crafts and cooking, and are looking for new local and online business opportunities. On a day-to-day basis, Haley’s role consists of community outreach and finding potential entrepreneurs in mostly the 7th Ward and Central City neighborhoods. She also manages team fundraising, recruiting, and communication. Since Fund 17 is a partner with CPS and CELT, Haley was able to gain academic credit for something she was already very involved in.

Annie and Haley both agree that they have a great connection with the instructors of the SISE seminar course: Carol Whelan, Senior Professor of Practice in the Tulane Teacher Certification Program; Julia Lang, Senior Administrative Program Coordinator at the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking; and Kathryn Hall-Trujillo, founder of The Birthing Project. Through their guidance and shared experiences, the seminar is very valuable in identifying the target populations of organizations and how to counter challenges faced in the field of social innovation.

Both students feel that the coordination between the seminar and the internship is critical; in particular, the seminar has helped Haley’s organization fall into place with social entrepreneurship. The seminar enhances the internship experiences by making interns informed actors in the field of social entrepreneurship. Annie sees the President of A’s and Aces, Dr. Anna Monhartova, as a social entrepreneur, because she is helping the community in a multi-faceted, innovative way.

SISE article_as and acesLike other internship seminars offered in conjunction with students’ public service internships, the SISE seminar serves as a platform for SISE students to discuss weekly updates about experiences at the internship placements, gain multiple perspectives about internship experiences, and provide an opportunity to be critical about service and community engagement. The SISE academic seminar has brought about reflection concerning innovation, one’s impact an organization as an intern, ways for effective time management, and how to improve both an organization and oneself as an intern.

Julia Turkevich is a senior studying Political Science and International Development with a minor in Architectural Studies. She is a student assistant for the Public Service Internships and International Programs at CPS.

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NOEMS by Megan Johnson


Every time I arrive at New Orleans EMS operational headquarters, I am amazed by how inconspicuous and small it seems for the action which takes place here on a daily basis. The two low slung trailers, which hold administrative personnel, almost blend into the background of the I-10 above, and stray cats wander the periphery. Beyond those it resembles a large parking lot, full of regular cars and ambulances. Today they have from four to six trucks posted around the city at any given time, ready to respond within minutes to emergencies, but this was not always the case. Although it is not a clear beginning, EMS in New Orleans is considered to have started with horse-drawn carriages provided by Charity Hospital in the early 1900’s. Over time, horses were replaced with early automobiles and eventually the ambulances used today. Similarly, the personnel staffing the mobile units have evolved. The responsibility of providing EMS was transferred to the New Orleans Police Department in 1947, meaning police officers worked the trucks. As emergency medical technician and paramedic training became available, the police department incorporated these certifications into their service, and today all trucks are required to have at least one nationally certified paramedic on board. Also aiding with the high call volume are two supervisors, also paramedics, in sprint vehicles. The New Orleans Health Department had taken over the division by the time Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in 2005. Most of the rebuilding which occurred thereafter made NOEMS what it is today. The operational side of NOEMS was placed under the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, but all funding comes from the New Orleans Health Department and therefore that portion of the city budget.

New Orleans is also nationally celebrated for the work it is able to perform in New Orleans, a city with one of the nations highest trauma rates. Military personnel have even trained with NOEMS to prepare for trauma they might see in combat, and my EMT-basic claimed they would not have survived the combat zone without their training here. EMTs and paramedics on staff are more than willing to share some of the horrifying things they have seen on duty, with the unfortunate but necessary callous attitude adopted by most of them. In order to survive in such a demanding and exhausting job, emotions have to be set aside and cases cannot be connected to personal life. I have noticed the population base in New Orleans can be incredibly trying at times when it comes to a service which does not discriminate against any caller with an emergency, in my mind the ultimate public service. A lot of dispatches are for patients with advanced cases which could have been managed long ago with preventative care, but the lack of education is to blame in these instances. Additionally, abuse of the healthcare system is rampant. A large portion of the population uses emergency departments for complaints which would be better managed by family doctors or urgent care, also at a lower price. Yet the most frustrating part of all these issues is the minimal time frame EMS staff have to interact with their patients, since little to no change is able to be accomplished within the time frame. EMTs and paramedics are left to deal with problems caused by bad policy and infrastructure. Instead, the most they can do is give their patients the best care within their scope of practice and hope their influence will cause change in the future. Those EMS personnel who cannot manage all of this tend to leave for other, more pleasant careers. However, no medic or EMT that I have met is able to maintain this façade when it comes to children. Even though they will tell you it is easy to blame adults because they have been alive long enough to know better, children are innocent and never deserve the afflictions which befall them. The quietest and most somber call I have ever worked was an infant in cardiac arrest. There were no jokes or fun afterwards, only quiet reflection revealing the still human side of my medic and EMT-basic.

Another amazing quality of the majority of staff at NOEMS is their eagerness to teach, especially when it comes to volunteers such as me. Questions are encouraged, whether they pertain to a call, operation, or hypothetical scenario. Even though the job is hard, it is these moments where the medic’s and EMT’s passion for their work shines through. Most of the time, these lessons are discussions in which they encourage me to use my own knowledge base to come to the proper conclusion. Riding with NOEMS has easily magnified my medical knowledge and made me a better EMT. Before undergoing the extensive testing necessary to become a supervisor for Tulane EMS, I decided to ride consistently and frequently with NOEMS. Watching my crew in action as they digested a scene, determined life threats, and moved the patient towards higher care gave me unparalleled insight into pre-hospital care which is necessary as a supervisor.  However, I would like to think the ride-alongs are not one sided when it comes to learning. My service to them is more than just an extra, capable set of hands to ease their burden. I would like to think I serve as a reminder of the reason they love EMS and were eager to a pursue a career in the field. My presence hopefully becomes a break in the monotony, as they have someone to educate and cultivate in the next generation, which will be responsibly for instituting the social change which is sorely needed in New Orleans. I know through my career in medicine I can apply what I have and will learn with NOEMS to make the healthcare field a better place, and I appreciate the opportunity I have been given. 


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