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Student EMRs Respond to Campus Medical Calls

03-17-2014
Emergency Medical Responders

USF EMRs practice intubating a mannequin during a drill.

A new Emergency Medical Response (EMR) service led and staffed by USF students is offering fast, front-line treatment for on-campus medical emergencies.

Faster response

The new weekend service, which is modeled on professional emergency services and meets state and federal mandates, is already producing faster medical responses by dispatching students who have Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) licenses to medical calls with campus police. Before the service started last semester, campus police, who aren’t medically trained, were tasked with assessing the medical needs of patients and working with USF Public Safety dispatchers to decide whether 911 should be called.

By dispatching EMRs immediately, USF has cut the response time to 5-11 minutes from the 10-20 it sometimes took San Francisco paramedics to respond under the old model. For serious injuries, San Francisco paramedics are still called. The EMR service has also reduced the number of costly trips to the hospital for students suffering from minor injuries, according to Octavia Struve, faculty adviser to the EMRs and a USF nursing instructor.

Avoid the hospital, save $1,000

“An ambulance ride to the hospital can cost more than $1,000. Plus, there’s the cost of being admitted to the emergency room on top of that,” said Marvin Huang ’15, a nursing major who was one of the first to join USF’s EMR team. “That’s a lot of money for a student or their parents to have to pay, if they can avoid it.”

The 17-member team and one field-training officer are on call from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. on Friday, Saturday, and into Sunday. Six more USF students are now enrolled in the 164-hour EMT course, taught by the San Francisco Paramedics Association. They’ll receive biology class credits for completing the EMT course. To become a full-fledge EMR, they must complete more training with San Francisco ambulance EMTs, San Francisco Fire Department paramedics, and USF public safety officers and dispatchers.

Helping patients and gaining experience

So far, EMRs have treated lacerations, stomach pains, and bruises and abrasions. While responding to medical calls is a vital part of the job, EMRs also manage the service’s shift schedules, finances, and medical records—including protecting patient privacy. “Because they come from a variety of academic majors, learning the business and operations side is invaluable and an integral part of the service’s design,” Struve said. “Engaged learning is a focus here at USF. And this service is a great example of that.”

USF EMRs also teach CPR and first aid classes on campus, conduct campaigns to raise student awareness about the flu and hand washing, and install and maintain heart defibrillators and first aid boxes in campus buildings.

Where else could I do this?

“I've been in the medical field for six years, and I still learn new things working with the EMRs,” said William Glazier ’15, a biology major who has his sights set on medical school and who served as a U.S. Army combat medic in Iraq in 2010 and Afghanistan in 2011. “Where else could I learn to manage a medical response team and give back to the community all while earning my degree?”

by Ed Carpenter | Office of Communications and Marketing »email usfnews@usfca.edu | Twitter @usfcanews