By Rob Vater
They walk among us as average students, heading to and from classes when all is normal. But when disaster strikes they come to the rescue, as we saw on March 1.
The Fitchburg State Emergency Medical Services are staffed by full-time students supervised by members of Campus Police. Trained in First Responder, cardiopulmonary resuscitation , automated external defibrillator, and FSC Rescue Squad procedures, they are prepared to be the first responders to incidents on campus, including last month’s norovirus outbreak.
“In an emergency situation, if the incident outweighs our resources, the dispatcher on Campus Police can call in half the EMS responders,” said EMS member Ethan Hansen. “First time was last night [March 1], but no matter what, if they need us they can get us at any time.”
When the norovirus hit the campus, numerous students reported feeling ill with symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. During this outbreak, the student volunteers of the EMS were responding to their ill classmates’ calls.
“Usually we have two students on call a night between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., but that night they called in half the squad,” Hansen said. “Some students stayed on call until 7 a.m.”
A full-time student in the communications-media department, Hansen has to maintain a high enough GPA to remain in one of FSC’s most competitive majors, while also serving as a member of EMS. He is on call for EMS about twice a week, responding to calls from students ranging from minor wounds and allergic reactions to possible outbreaks such as the norovirus.
“EMS is a lot of fun to do,” Hansen said. “It’s a bit of a workload, but at the same time it’s pretty awesome.”
All new member of EMS are enrolled in a semester-long EMS Academy, which takes place five hours a week on Wednesday nights. This academy trains students to become first responders to emergency situations on campus. After completing the academy, they are ready to respond to medical emergencies.
The students involved come from many diverse majors, including communications, nursing, human services, and industrial technology. For most college students, graduating in four years is hard enough. These students are not only meeting the requirements of their majors, but also putting in the extra effort to help their fellow students.
“People in the organization are people who have no issue volunteering for all sorts of things, participating in other clubs, working as firefighters or EMTs,” Hansen said. “Everyone in EMS does a lot of different things; for the most part, everyone who goes to the academy is willing to help out whenever and wherever they can. As we saw on Monday [March 1], everyone is willing to sacrifice their time to help other people.”
According to Hansen, the time he puts in for EMS doesn’t conflict with his schoolwork at all. He says it actually helps.
“As long as you have a radio when you’re on call, you can do whatever you want as long as you’re on campus. I usually keep my radio on and sit down and do my homework,” said Hansen.
Due to a recent increase in student participation, Hansen said, “Soon we’ll be fighting for hours to be on call.”
Students do not get paid to serve on EMS; they are strictly volunteers who dedicate their time to keep students of Fitchburg State College safe. To learn more about this organization, contact Campus Police.