Nov 28, 2018
In Cornell Institute for Public Affairs
CIPA Consulting Project Slated to Receive Cornell Annual Town Gown Award

Focusing on campus-community initiatives led by Cornell students, the 8th annual Cornell Town-Gown Awards (the TOGOs) will be held Dec. 8, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., in Kulp Auditorium at Ithaca High School.  One of the partnerships to be recognized is one CIPA has been integrally involved with: a countywide task force assessing emergency systems throughout Tompkins County.

For the past two years the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Task Force of the Tompkins County Council of Governments has worked to assess local EMS provisions,looking at the critical challenges for diminishing volunteers and the increase in state mandates for the training of volunteer EMS responders. The task force began collaborating with CIPA Lecturer Rebecca Morgenstern Brenner in the spring of 2017.  That semester, students in her PADM 5900 consulting course worked with stakeholders throughout the county to assess concern over significant challenges to the long-term sustainability for the county’s EMS.  CIPA Lecturer Dan Lamb brought his consulting students onboard in the fall of 2017, and Brenner picked it up again in the spring of 2018, when her consulting students ran focus groups with the different volunteer EMS providers in the county.  The project expanded to include Cornell Engineering Professor Al George and his students, who brought a systems engineering focus to the project by providing a systems assessment.

Over the course of four semesters, twelve students produced four substantive reports: three from CIPA and one from Systems Engineering. Their analyses resulted in the creation (and funding) of a full time Tompkins County staff position to move forward on their recommendations. 

The final reports are linked on theTCCOG EMS Task Force  web page, which also includes the membership list for the Task Force.

“This has been a great project, involving amazing community partners. It has also been a wonderful opportunity for collaboration between departments and faculty here at Cornell. Ultimately, it has resulted in an action plan that the county is adopting,” says Brenner.

From a policy perspective, CIPA students investigated the problem and policy implications, developed focus groups, and analyzed policy options to develop a solution. From a systems analysis perspective, engineering students made quantitative analyses of possible improvement strategies including service improvement measures and costs.

Irene Weiser, Town of Caroline Board member and Chair of EMS Task Force served as the main community contact person for the project. Students also worked closely with a variety of other stakeholders, including TC Department Emergency Response Director Lee Shurtleff and Brian Wilbur from TC Emergency Response