The Rice Thresher
by Amanda Cahn
For the Thresher
Rice's Disability Support Services has developed a database that will enable Rice Emergency Medical Technicians to quickly identify patients with serious medical conditions in case the patients are unconscious when the EMTs arrive.
The medical alert system is designed to identify students, faculty and staff members with conditions such as diabetes, seizure disorders or cardiac problems.
"There have been and are students on campus who have some major medical conditions that might possibly result in a crisis while they're on campus," Disability Support Services Director Jean Ashmore, who helped institute the new medical alert system, said.
Ashmore said the database was a response to student concerns about REMS being best able to treat patients with specific, pre-existing medical conditions.
"[The program] is a collaborative effort between Disability Support Services and [Rice Emergency Medical Services] to enhance our response for people who have medical conditions on campus," Ashmore said.
EMS supervisors carry the database information with them in the supervisor's Palm Pilot.
"If the EMTs recognize the patient, and they're unable to respond, then we're able to look up their information on our Palm Pilot and see what their medical history is," REMS Captain David Melville, a Martel College senior, said. "It provides more information. Essentially, it allows us to better treat our patients."
In order to be included in the database, each student, faculty or staff member must sign a consent form indicating his or her medical status, the best method of assistance, current medications, allergies and contact information for family, friends and doctors. Any information provided is kept confidential among REMS supervisors and EMTs responding to the patient in an emergency situation.
Many students have responded favorably to the idea of the medical alert system.
"I think it's a great idea because as long as you have control over who gets the information, it could really be helpful when you're treated," Wiess College sophomore Mary Mackay said.
Melville said that even if a student is registered in the database, medical alert bracelets still aid EMTs in treating patients with chronic medical conditions.