No progress made on NU emergency medical service group

Stephanie Louise Lu

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Student-run Emergency Medical Service programs provide first-response aid at approximately 200 colleges and universities nationwide. Northwestern students are working to add NU to the list.

McCormick senior Andrew Cuming, a certified emergency medical technician, said he was surprised NU did not have its own EMS student group.

“I’ve always thought it was an important feature to have,” he said. “There are hundreds of colleges and universities that have one, and it was confusing to me that Northwestern didn’t have a program of its own.”

Collegiate Emergency Medical Services groups are student-run organizations dedicated to providing pre-hospital medical care to individuals in times of emergency, according to the National Collegiate EMS Foundation Web site. Typically, students involved in EMS groups have access to certification courses to become EMTs and to opportunities to treat others in real emergency situations.

Cuming tried to start an EMS program at NU in October 2006. Because NU has such a large campus, students are likely to be the first to respond in case of an emergency, he said.

“If something happened to someone in Tech, an ambulance could take six minutes to get to Tech and 15 minutes to find the room,” he said. “It was important to me that students should be trained.”

At Cuming’s first EMS meeting to gauge student interest, 120 students attended. Ultimately, due to opposition from the administration, the EMS program never came to fruition, he said.

However, NU officials have suggested there is no need for a student-run emergency medical service. Daniel McAleer, deputy chief of NU police, said the Evanston fire department is “well qualified and provides excellent response and care to the university community.”

William Banis, vice president of Student Affairs, wrote in an e-mail that questions regarding a student-led emergency service should be directed to Christopher Johnson, director of Risk Management and Safety . Johnson said in an e-mail that a decision had been “made much higher up the food chain,” and declined to comment further.”Cuming said he hopes an EMS program is still a possibility for NU’s campus.

“Overall I would encourage people to send in things to the school,” he said. “I think if there is enough overwhelming support for it, the school would have to allow it.”

The Loyola University EMS Program now benefits students, faculty and anyone in need of treatment, said Gregory Greene, the program’s director. It took significant effort to bring the program to where it is today, he said.

“We had extreme difficulties,” Greene said. “It took a year to get our plans from paper to reality.”

Greene and his team drafted proposals and laid the foundation for the program in late 2007 and started working with their Campus Safety office early last year. The group had help from Loyola’s Division of Student Affairs and Facilities Management Department, and also received a dorm room from Loyola’s Department of Residence Life to serve as the program’s headquarters. The program started offering certification courses in June 2008 and began sending out responder groups in August 2008, Greene said.

“The things we help with could be as simple as cuts that we’d provide ice packs for and as serious as heart attacks that we’d provide CPR for,” he said.

Weinberg junior Carolyn Hsu said she thought EMS would be a good addition to NU.

“Even though we’re students, we’re still fully capable of performing medical tasks,” she said.