CofC student-run EMT program provides students real-life experience

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by Jason Tighe | 

As the College of Charleston men’s basketball team takes the court to cheering fans, some in the crowd are more worried about health and safety than the score.

On site are medical professionals ready to heal.

More than 20 years ago the college’s student-run EMT program got its start. In 2011, MUSC donated an ambulance to the school.

Jack Golder, a senior at CofC, says the program continues to grow. He explained what goes into some of the planning for the EMTs to work an event like last month’s Cougars’ home game against the University of North Carolina.

“There’s a ton of prep that went into this. We sit down, talk about all the athletic injuries that a player may sustain. All the injuries that even the people in crowd may sustain as well," Golder said.

Golder also works for Charleston County’s EMS unit. He’s one of 40 or so students enrolled in CofC’s EMT program.

Golder says the experience is as real as it gets while working a 911 call response.

“So, if you call 911 and we’re the closest unit on or off campus we’ll come and take you to the hospital," Golder said.

Overseeing the program is veteran medic Captain David McDonough.

"We are an EMT certified program. We are DHEC certified nationally registered EMTs," McDonough explained.

The trained students take rotations riding in the ambulance and responding to calls. They work from 5 p.m. until 7 a.m. the next day.

While not all the students are interested in continuing on as an EMT after college, many do plan on following up in other medical-related professions.

With many agencies around the country- including Berkeley and Dorchester Counties- dealing with EMT shortages, the hope is programs like CofC’s will help.

"I’d like to think that we’re a feeder program for the agencies ... and I think that the agencies see that as well," McDonough said.

Regardless of what part of the medical field the students go into, McDonough believes it’ll make a lifelong impact.

"We’re providing basic life support just as any other agency would be serving this exact same level," McDonough said.

The program is student-run and voluntary.

The ambulance service is free of charge to CofC community members who are treated and/or transported to the hospital.

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