By REID OSLIN | CHRONICLE STAFF
A new emergency response medical vehicle, staffed by trained student EMT volunteers and supervised by University administrators, will provide improved medical assistance for the Boston College community.
The new first-response vehicle, a specially designed 2012 Ford Explorer outfitted with state-of-the-art emergency medical and trauma treatment equipment, was delivered to campus on Feb. 9. Following a certification inspection, the vehicle is expected to go into service tonight.
Purchase of the new first-response vehicle was the result of a multi-year effort by members of Eagle EMS, an award-winning student organization that offers EMT training and certification for interested undergraduates, and provides volunteer emergency medical service at University events.
"Eagle EMS started pushing for an ambulance or first-response vehicle six or seven years ago," says Eagle EMS president Christopher Faherty ’13, who has been active in the group since his freshman year. "We have about 125 members and 90 of them are certified EMTs. Last semester we provided almost 4,000 man-hours of coverage, and were at every big event on campus. We offered monthly CPR classes, had weekly state-accredited continuing education sessions, and we did a lot of community outreach.
"We asked ourselves, ‘How can we help the community even more?’ We felt that we were ready for a vehicle."
Faherty and his fellow EMT leaders worked with Vice President of Student Affairs Patrick Rombalski, Executive Vice President Patrick Keating, University Health Services Director Thomas Nary, MD, Public Safety Director and Chief of Police John King and Interim Dean of Students Paul Chebator to draw up specifications and highly detailed procedures for a student-staffed first-response vehicle.
"This whole thing is a tribute to the students who have been a part of Eagle EMS for the past five or six years," says Chebator, who along with King and Dr. Nary will oversee operation of the vehicle and Eagle EMS campus service. "Their student leadership has just been amazing in terms of the levels of professionalism and responsibility that they have shown. They put together a proposal for this vehicle that was one of the best student proposals I have ever seen."
Chebator praised the Eagle EMS students’ dedication, noting that they are often first responders at campus events to aid victims of heart attacks, heat strokes or other emergencies. "A vehicle will now allow them to respond more quickly and with appropriate equipment."
The Eagle EMS vehicle will be staffed by two certified student emergency medical technicians during weekend periods and at large events. It will be dispatched to medical emergencies by the Boston College Police Department. Although the new vehicle is equipped for emergency medical treatment, it will not do transport service, deferring to larger ambulances as needed.
The University has an affiliation with St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton that will afford BC responders medical control and oversight from the hospital’s physicians, and also qualify the vehicle to carry some prescription drugs – such as EpiPens for allergic reactions and glucometers for treatment of diabetics – as well as a suction unit and other specialized medical devices.
"Members of Eagle EMS are a part of the community and we are doing this because we want to do it," says Faherty. "We want to volunteer. We do it because we care about other students. It’s a higher level of care and we take it very seriously. We hold ourselves to the most professional level."