Dedicated to serving her community at their greatest moments of need, Samantha Eisner, a 2015 graduate of Sayville High School, serves Sayville, West Sayville, Oakdale, Bayport, and Bohemia through Sayville Community Ambulance as an EMT.
A position she has held since 2017, Eisner originally wanted a career in law enforcement and studied at SUNY Farmingdale for a degree in criminal law process.
Upon joining community ambulance, Eisner found that she preferred performing as an EMT over law enforcement.
“I surprised myself with that decision,” said Eisner. “I had always wanted to help handle people in those grave situations, but I actually thought blood was gross. But my experience made me want to learn more about the human body and the effects of medication on it.”
As her work involves patient care usually lasting less than an hour, Eisner was trained to value efficiency in assessment and action.
When a patient in a particularly acute situation is presented, Eisner said that body substance isolation is of paramount importance.
“You want to make sure there are no animals around that might interfere, that traffic is stopped; if there’s something like an electrical wire, that the fire department has taken care of it,” said Eisner.
Keeping calm and focused under pressure is a strength that Eisner continues to prioritize as she is training to be a paramedic.
With 18-hour days that include her day job as a private EMT, volunteering, and schoolwork, Eisner doesn’t have much to time spare on herself, but said that giving back to the community and helping others is what she would elect to do anyway.
In one of her most memorable situations as an EMT, Eisner recalled receiving a dispatch for a man who went into cardiac arrest and then another dispatch for the same intersection for a man who had dislocated his elbow.
It turned out that the man with the dislocated elbow, who had just left dinner with his wife and 7-year-old child, had managed to safely remove the man in cardiac arrest from his car and perform CPR, and dislodged his elbow in the process.
“What I loved about that is that it had a positive, happy ending for everyone,” said Eisner.
Dealing with the aftermath of unhappy endings, which unfortunately, are the majority of calls dispatched, is something that Eisner has been stoic and steadfast in approaching in order to continue her work.
“My first EMT rotation, someone went into cardiac arrest and I had to perform chest compressions for the first time,” said Eisner. “That person did not survive, and I felt so guilt-ridden that I had done something wrong.”
Eisner credits her fellow EMTs and support systems, like a stress management team with therapy sessions in keeping her engaged but enlightened about the situations she encounters.
“In a way, you have to detach and desensitize yourself from what you’re doing; you have to do what you have do and what you know and were trained to do,” said Eisner.
Working as an EMT in the community where she grew up has made for chance encounters with people she knew in other aspects of her life, and Eisner has used that to be a calming force in the situation.
“You’re meeting people at their most intimate and most vulnerable,” said Eisner. “It’s important to use what you can to calm someone down and have a better outcome.”
The ongoing opioid crisis is particularly difficult, as Narcan often brings back patients who are belligerent and aggressive.
Eisner’s training has been of invaluable strength, as the need to treat can overcome the precaution of safety at times.
“When someone is overdosing, you have to make sure it’s safe for you, that there are no needles or broken glass that can affect you,” said Eisner.
Even with driving, Eisner is careful to follow protocol that dictates ambulances only drive five miles over the speed limit.
“You’re no use if you cause an accident and injure others or yourself,” said Eisner.
Serving as an EMT in both New York City and Long Island has given Eisner a firsthand and front-row experience with national events.
She recalled the turmoil of the Black Lives Matter protests following the George Floyd incident in 2020, when EMTs were unable to treat individuals needing care because of car blockades or confusion with EMTs as representatives of law enforcement.
During the most recent COVID-19 peak, Eisner said that people would abuse the ambulance system and call for COVID-19 tests when they were unable to obtain one on their own, taking a unit out of commission for a trivial matter and overloading the system.
Eisner, resting on the strength of her training, has taken these strong outside factors, and focused on her tasks at hand and her general devotion to help those with acute medical situations and work together with her fellow first responders.
Matt Eichele, who also serves Sayville Community Ambulance as an EMT, was mentored by Eisner and said, “She puts her heart into what she does and consistently makes sure to be the best provider she can be.”
He went on and said, “Sam is an inspiring person. All while working hard to achieve her goals, she also finds time to give back to the community.”
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