Students Have Own Emergency Unit

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Delware Fire Service News

By Karen Steele

When an ambulance goes through the University of Delaware in Newark, it is no ordinary ambulance.

At the University of Delaware, there is a special all volunteer, non-profit student organization that responds to all campus emergency medical calls - the University of Delaware Emergency Care Unit (UDECU). UDECU currently operates a fully equipped type II ambulance licensed by the State of Delaware and the Delaware State Fire School. It responds to more than 400 calls a year, with the majority of the calls when school is in session.

The UDECU office and ambulance bay is located in the University of Delaware's Public Safety Building on Amstel Avenue in Newark. The organization is funded by the University Student Activities Department and the University Public Safety Department. The ambulance service is entirely free and no person transported receives a bill for services rendered.

The Emergency Care Unit operates in the same manner as any other ambulance company in Delaware, with a few minor exceptions. All of the 911 calls are received through University Public Safety, where an EMD-trained dispatcher takes the call and dispatches the ambulance via a tone paging system. When a paramedic is needed for the call, the dispatcher contacts Fire Board and a paramedic unit is sent as well. UDECU operates on the 800 MHz system through both the University Police and Fire Board. The ambulance only contacts Fire Board, however, on calls where a medic unit is responding. The ambulance's call number is the infamous "UD-1". Currently, "UD-1" is confined to the University of Delaware campus and never responds off-campus, even for mutual aid with neighboring companies.

"The Emergency Care Unit operates in the same manner as any other ambulance company in Delaware, with a few minor exceptions."

The University of Delaware Emergency Care Unit and its members are very active in EMS throughout the county and state. UDECU keeps good relations with the Aetna Hose Hook and Ladder Co. in Newark by sharing EMS related training classes and such. UDECU is a proud member of both the New Castle County Ambulance Association and the Delaware State Ambulance Association as well as a member of the National Collegiate EMS Foundation. There are no ambulance "line officers". However, the organization is run by an executive board consisting of eight members with positions such as coordinator, treasurer, director of training, and director of equipment.

The members of EDECU consist of university students with a wide variety of backgrounds. Some students come into the organization with no experience while others come in already certified as Nationally Registered EMTs and as members of other fire companies in the state.

The membership ranges from inexperienced college freshman to a past Delaware Ambulance Attendant of the Year. Each member is required to become ECT certified within one year of being accepted as a members. All are strongly encouraged to become Nationally Registered. This certification is done outside of the University and the overwhelming workload of being a college student. When students join UDECU, they become family similar to the family atmosphere within all fire companies in Delaware. Students not only ride the ambulance together, but are also noted for their social life "off hours."

So why are college students willing to volunteer their time to ride an ambulance? Karen Steele, a senior, states, "I grew up around the firehouse with my father, Elmer Steele, past DVFA president, who was always rushing out when the alarm went off. Therefore, I decided that I wanted to help people in their time of need as well. When I heard I could join this group without any prior experience, it was exactly what I was looking for. It gave me a feeling of accomplishment for being there to help others, while at the same time receiving the required training to continue in the emergency medical field. The experience and training is something that I will be able to carry with me for the rest of my life."

Freshman member, Kierney Corliss, who also came into the organization with no formal experience states, "I wanted to become involved in a group where I was able to learn new things and feel like I was doing something worthwhile. After riding here for a year, I now know that we may only be college students, but we are certified like everyone else to handle emergency calls and transport patients as quickly and safely as possible."

"We may only be college students, but we are certified like everyone else to handle emergency

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