By Rachel Marder
Published: Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Updated: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 23:05
A state medical authority granted a license to the Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps this month to operate as an ambulance service, allowing the campus EMT group to serve as a resource during city and state medical emergencies, Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan said. The Class V ambulance license was issued by the state's Office of Emergency Medical Services Feb. 3, BEMCo. officials said, and took two years to acquire. The license requires renewal by Feb. 28 next year.
Callahan said "The city can [now] utilize BEMCo in extreme situations," calling on the Brandeis EMTs to transport ambulatory patients.
"It's good PR for BEMCo and the University," he added.
BEMCo will also be able to carry basic life-support drugs, including Epinephrine auto-injectors, Aspirin and Albuterol given through a Nebulizer, according to a BEMCo press release.
"These can be administered to patients on hand and we don't have to wait for the ambulance to come and do that, so it's really a great increase in care for us," BEMCo Operations Director Jonathan Sham '06 said.
Sham said the license itself costs between $200 and $300 annually and the drugs cost around $450 to purchase each year. He said these costs will be covered under the group's budget, which comes from the Student Activities Fee.
Without the license, BEMCo had been certified to give out oxygen and take students to Sterling Medical Center, Callahan said.
"For the last 23 years BEMCo has been operating as a 'quick response service'," and has been unable to carry drugs on-hand, Sham said.
All BEMCo members are required by the state to go through "continued education classes" during the certification period. Sham said he expects training to be completed by the first week after February break.
Eastern Medical Educators, an outside company of instructors, is training the EMTs on the administration of the drugs, Sham said.
The process of receiving the certification was more difficult than it needed to be, Sham said.
"Basically, we had to run through a lot of red tape [and] get all of our protocols approved," he said.
Because the Newton-Wellesley Hospital sponsors BEMCo and grants the group the power to administer these drugs, BEMCo had to get the hospital's approval in the process.
Callahan said the director of the Office of Emergency Medical Services from the state's Department of Public Health inspected BEMCo's transport vehicles.
BEMCo also had to receive University approval for the license upgrade, Sham said.
Callahan said the administration was very supportive of BEMCo professionalizing their services, and called the initiative a "partnership between administrators and students."
Still Sham said,"As far as support goes, it wasn't overwhelming."
BEMCo's "biggest champion" is their medical director Dr. Debra Poaster at the Health Center, Sham said.
Dean of Student Life Rick Sawyer and former University Treasurer Jeffrey Solomon signed a statement last year, which said, "We do not object to the administration of these protocols."
"That was sort of the extent of the University's support," Sham said. "I'm not going to complain, we finally got it done.