Emergencies aren’t something to mess around with, but when an ambulance ride can cost up to $3000, it’s worth considering whether or not it’s really necessary. USF’s Department of Public Safety responds to all emergency calls on campus, including medical ones — but public safety officers are not trained paramedics, so triaging a medical situation can be difficult. Now, since the formation of USF EMRs (Emergency Medical Response services) last fall, that responsibility falls into the hands of professionals, who are capable of providing treatment and determining if a costly trip to the ER is really needed.
EMRs is a volunteer group of 13 students who are trained EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) who want to gain experience in emergency medical care. Last semester they responded to 14 calls on campus, over 80 percent of which were related to alcohol or drug use, according to faculty advisor professor Octavia Struve. They provided basic treatment, and in some cases were able to treat a patient that would have otherwise ended up in the emergency room.
EMRs operates from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Since most of the emergency calls are related to drugs and alcohol, EMRs wants to add a shift on Thursday nights — “Thirsty Thursday” is a popular night for drinking — as soon as possible. Because EMRs and Public Safety want students to feel safe asking for help, students who call EMRs with a drug or alcohol related emergency are not reprimanded — however, EMRs is considering starting some kind of alcohol education program and encouraging students to make safer decisions regarding drinking and drugs, according to Struve.
“We learned a lot last semester, this semester we are really ready to expand,” Struve said.
EMRs Public Relations office junior Marvin Huang believes he learned a lot and improved his EMT skills over the last semester. “During the emergencies that we get dispatched to, there is a lot to do in a short amount of time so we really learn how to get accurate information quickly and make decisions soon after collecting that information. I feel more comfortable under pressure and I’ve improved my ability to calmly assess the situation.”
EMRs hasn’t just been improving skills and expanding shifts; they’ve also added a new service: EMT standby services for campus events, meaning that they will provide first aid stations and do walk arounds to make sure everyone is safe.
The squad also performs a variety of other duties, including updating campus first aid kits and automated external defibrillators (AEDs), teaching CPR and first aid classes, and doing awareness campaigns for health issues like the flu prevention and proper handwashing.
So far, nearly 200 students, faculty and community members have been educated in CPR, first aid or both, but that’s not good enough for EMRs, whose ultimate goal is get every student trained. EMRs also helped the Jesuit residence, Loyola House, to get an AED and trained a resident on how to use it. They hope to eventually install an AED in every building, according to Struve.
In the event of an emergency on campus, EMRs can be reached at (415)-422-2911.