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Old Gold and Black

What was only a vision last year for the student-run Emergency Response Team is now close to operation. Three weeks from now, it will begin to operate on campus to serve the urgent needs of ill or injured students.

Both sophomore Jessica Murray, the director of the emergency squad, and freshman Kevin Gamble, the shift lieutenant, said that after insurance issues have been cleared up, the squad will begin to respond to campus calls.

Murray said that the ERT will be an on-campus medical and trauma first-response unit that will be fully confidential.

"If it is not a situation requiring advanced life support (hospitalization), we would make an assessment of the student's health and treat accordingly; if it is, we would provide basic life support until the ambulance arrives. We are a rapid-response team," she said.

Gamble said that an average of 150 calls for urgent help is placed on campus per year, with an ambulance coming to campus between one to three times a week. The squad will respond to these kinds of incidents.

"We (will be) responding between 4:30 p.m. and 8 a.m., and 24 hours on weekends where no such response team exists," he said.

The remainder of the time will be filled with the work of a safety response team that are trained-emergency medical technicians who currently work with the Physical Facilities crew.

There are currently 17 active EMTs who will provide coverage this semester.

There are also two EMT classes that are in training. Inexperienced members currently work with the Winston-Salem Rescue Squad to gain experience that the small university community cannot provide; this is a prerequisite for running calls on campus.

"We want the members to be well-trained, because we are servicing our peers. At all times, a shift lieutenant (a highly experienced EMT) will be on-call if their service is needed," Murray said.

Many premedical students, as well as students of other majors, such as business, are interested in the group, according to Murray.

"We provide basic service with a `jumpbag' of extensive first aid materials. We can do anything from delivering a baby to providing basic life support in a mass casualty incident."

Murray also said that the EMTs will carry oxygen and spine stabilization equipment in a van.

"We will also do stand-bys at functions and provide education, such as CPR instruction and first-aid programs," she said.

"We also have a special projects division, which executes programs such as a mentor program for inner-city schools and the organ donor drive on campus. You do not have to be an EMT to be a part of our special projects division," Murray said.

"There was a void of the Emergency Medical System that we could fill with students on campus. But it not only benefits Wake Forest by filling the void, but also through educating the members.

"It instills confidence to respond to emergency situations, but also teaches about life situations not ordinarily experienced by the average Wake student," she said.

Gamble called it "problem solving beyond the classroom."

The EMTs will be clearly identifiable on the scene and can be reached by contacting 911 on campus, or through Student Health for serious emergencies where the patient is unable to get to Student Health on their own, Gamble said.

"We want students to be aware of us and that everything will be confidential. Student-to-student contact is much more comfortable. We know the stress people are under, we don't pass judgment and we understand," Murray said.

"We have a high-level of care and we are there for them. We are concerned with their health and nothing else," she said.

If any students are interested in helping with or joining the ERT, classes are offered. People can be involved with the Special Project Division or the Education Division.

Interested students may contact Murray at Ext. 6978, or Jacara Cunningham, the personnel officer, at Ext. 1424.

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