ASU Student Emergency Medical Services brings life to campus events

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Scattered at the events across ASU’s campuses are students in collared maroon shirts and black cargo pants with radios clipped to their waist. Stamped from shoulder to shoulder, across their backs are the bold and white letters “SEMS.”

The Student Emergency Medical Services program, which was founded by 2008 EMS Coordinator Sean McMullen, treats students and attendees at events across all four campuses.

McMullen acquired his EMT license in high school and decided to start looking into some national organizations at college campuses. McMullen said he was a freshman at ASU when he had an idea.

“I remember thinking we’re at ASU, one of the largest schools in the country, and we don’t have our own program,” McMullen said. “So I looked in and saw that nowhere in Arizona there was a program like (SEMS).”

McMullen said he had done some research on the National Collegiate Emergency Medical Services Foundation website and saw that many universities, like Virginia Tech, across the country had a similar service, but ASU was lacking a program.

“It was tough, because there was nothing in Arizona,” McMullen said. “Many of the administrators were like, ‘Well, maybe there’s a reason we can’t do it in Arizona.’ We had to have a lot of lawyers look into it.”

The Beginning

NCEMSF was founded in 1993 as a nonprofit organization to better fulfill the safety needs across University campuses.

SEMS has 37 active EMTs and 11 dispatchers that work out of a call center with the Tempe Police Department on certain occasions. The average man-hours tallied is about 113 hours per week, according to documents provided by SEMS.

“It’s a full-time job, and it’s frustrating sometimes,” McMullen said. “There is so much logistical work that goes into it.”

McMullen said over the past couple of years, SEMS has been working to get a staff job for students. He said that someone must manage the budget and order supplies.

“There’s a lot of little things you don’t even think about until you’re kinda into it,” McMullen said. “You’re like, ‘Oh crap, I never thought we’d have to do that.’”

McMullen said he loves the field of medicine and works in the emergency room at a hospital and is a trained medic in the Army National Guard.

“Pretty much any free time I have, I am doing some medical work,” McMullen said.

McMullen is from Scottsdale and finds time to ski and hang out with friends.

“I like to think I’m not a typical Scottsdale kid, but some people beg to differ,” McMullen said with a smile.

McMullen named a successor to oversee things after he graduates in summer 2015 and said he feels the program will continue to thrive under him.

“I think the ultimate test of how well I’ve done and the ultimate test of the organization is whether or not it can survive without me,” McMullen said. “I think if it could go on, that means I’ve done a good enough job setting it up to continue on.”

The service has more members than ever and continues to grow. Potential members are required to have an EMT certification. There are several levels of progression within the organization, from a recruit up to a chief.

SEMS will send EMTs to all athletic events except swim and dive. The program started with intramural flag football and eventually expanded to basketball.

McMullen said when the program first began, they were excited to just do an event a month.

The Motivation

Biology sophomore Matthew Register joined SEMS his freshman year. Register said he went online to find out about the program because he could not work as an EMT on an ambulance, which require people to be 21 to ride along.

“I love it. This is what I wanna do,” Register said. “I’m interested in going into the emergency medical field and this is a great way to get experience and to help out fellow students.”

Biology sophomore Teya Cuellar is in her first semester with SEMS. Cuellar said she also wants to enter the medical field.

“It’s really good, because it gets you that basic experience,” Cuellar said. “If I were to be on an ambulance, I would get thrown into crazy stuff right away.”

Cuellar said because the work is on campus, it’s an easy transition into the field of emergency services. She said balance between student and EMT can be challenging.

“I think you definitely make time for however you prioritize things,” Cuellar said. “This is something I love doing, and it’s something that will get me where I want to go.”

Register and Cuellar work intramural games when they are scheduled and bring supplies with them in Statpacks.

The large red backpacks contain many different medical tools, from IV supplies to advanced airway management, that the EMTs use to treat patients.

Register said the pack weighs around 60 pounds, but many of the contents could be life-saving.

The Process

Register said even though they are EMT-certified, they cannot suture or transport patients to the hospital.

“It’s kind of humbling to know if when we need help, we have it,” he said.

In a dire situation, the Tempe Fire Department would transport a patient from campus to a local hospital.

SEMS also has supervisors to oversee the recruits and make sure service is carried out correctly.

Michael Juby, biomedical engineering senior and deputy chief, joined SEMS in August 2012. He put in nearly 90 hours of work as an EMT.

Presently, Juby said he handles most of the administrative work that happens “behind the scenes.”

“I get to have a positive impact on my school, but it doesn’t just benefit the school,” Juby said. “It benefits visitors of the University as well.”

SEMS works with other organizations on campus like Sun Devil Fitness.

Program Coordinator Senior Kristopher Kuchler at Sun Devil Fitness works with SEMS on a regular basis. Kuchler said McMullen contacted Sun Devil Fitness in 2013 before intramural football started to offer their services.

“McMullen wanted to get his EMTs some practice and now it provides us a great service to have them out at the fields,” he said. “We really like to have them out whenever we can.”

Kuchler said they have their own personnel on the fields during intramurals all the time.

“They are a great asset to our program,” Kuchler said. “I think it gives them a great experience when they can get a lot of exposure to students.”

Kuchler said SEMS can help Sun Devil Fitness staff out in areas they may not be familiar with. He said Sun Devil Fitness would love to see the partnership continue in the future.

“It provides us a great safety net to have that expertise,” he said. “All of our supervisors are first-aid trained, but not to any level like student EMTs.”

Reposted from ASU State Press:

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