EMS wins potential to expand through agency status

on .

By: Zachary Weishar
The Massachusetts Daily Collegian

For students that have ever attended an on-campus event and had an emergency, University of Massachusetts Emergency Medical Services (EMS) was possibly there to assist in them.

Standing silently behind the scenes, this group – approximately 120 student EMTs – provides the majority of the on scene medical staff for campus events, according to Amherst Fire Department liaison David Carter.

Last Monday, the Student Government Association granted EMS agency status, which provides them with a larger budget. EMS will use the increased funding to purchase new medical equipment and to hire a part-time advisor that will help the group achieve its long-term goals.

"[The advisor] will give us more continuity going from year to year amongst our members," said Carter.

He said that without this advisor, it is difficult to complete programs that stretch multiple years.

"The problem that we had before was that our directors would switch over every year," said EMS Executive Director Maesie Wieler. "Ideas change with new directors and they push some things aside."

With this advisor, EMS will begin planning a quick response system, an idea that they have had for several years, but have been unable to progress with, according to Carter. This plan would allow EMS members to become first responders on campus.

EMS works at rugby games, football games, Mullins Center concerts and events at the Fine Arts Center as well as Bowker Auditorium. EMS also provides medical service for many events run by Registered Student Organizations, said Carter. Medical care is free to students.

"We are the ones that go around on the floor [at concerts], checking on the people first and seeing what they need,"said Carter.

As first responders, EMS would respond to 911 calls on campus Thursday through Saturday to better allocate emergency services in conjunction with the AFD. EMS would arrive on scene before AFD and provide medical care until an ambulance arrives, said Wieler.

“If [AFD] has another call in Amherst, they can go to that while we take care of someone’s roommate who is throwing up in the bathroom,” said Wieler. “If we do need [AFD] for a medical emergency, we can stabilize that person in the meantime while we are waiting.”

This plan will allow faster response time to medical emergencies on campus and help ensure that the AFD only responds to situations where an ambulance is necessary.

Last year, the AFD responded to 622 calls on campus, according to Carter.

Quick response is still in the planning stages and there is no expected date of completion. However, the group will begin the testing stages within the coming year, said Wieler.

In addition to providing medical care, EMS also provides relatively inexpensive CPR training to interested students. It is EMS’ goal to certify every UMass student for CPR, according to Carter.

EMS offers a “Heart Saver” CPR class several times a year that allows student to become CPR certified in several hours. The class costs $10 for those that pre-register or $15 at the door.

“We want UMass to become a heart safe campus,” said Wieler.

Zachary Weishar can be reached at zweishar@student.umass.edu.

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