ISE alum, vice chair of Lehigh Board of Trustees is captain of volunteer EMS team in Conn. hometown
In recognition of National EMS week, Lehigh caught up with industrial engineering alum Philip Sheibley ’81 ’19P, vice chair of the university's Board of Trustees and principal of venture capital firm Fiberight Investment Partners, about being a certified EMT volunteer and captain of the New Canaan EMS squad in his Connecticut hometown. 

Why did you get involved with the New Canaan EMS?

I had spent 20 years in life sciences (pharma, biotech, and medical products) and wanted to learn the medical side of healthcare out of interest. Also, I had several family members who needed urgent medical care and wanted to be personally knowledgeable in such an event. I joined New Canaan’s all volunteer EMS group in 2015 after getting certified as an EMT and was elected captain (chief) in 2018.

What EMS protection and procedures have changed since the pandemic?

EMS quickly instituted procedures where the 911 center dispatchers will ask callers a series of questions to identify a potential COVID-19 risk, and the dispatchers will inform our responding crews. The crews have to be ready with N95 masks, eye protection, isolation gowns, etc., for any call that has a risk of exposure, and as time has gone on, they pretty much assume that for any call. In addition, a meticulous decontamination process for the ambulance, equipment used, etc., has to be employed, which means each call takes a crew out of service longer than it used to.

How has your Lehigh engineering education helped you with your EMS volunteer involvement?

I will ascribe some of our success (my success in managing our operations) to my training as an engineer — structured planning, execution, and performance assessment, as well as rapid problem solving were critical to the need. While I did not sign up expecting to be managing in a pandemic, I was glad to be there for it. And love of learning, which Lehigh instilled in me, was no doubt one of the drivers in my decision to learn about emergency medicine.
Read the full interview on The Goblet.