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Recognizing the Need – The Origins of the AUA Emergency Response Team

During my lecture, I could hear the emergency sirens wailing.

After being on this island a few semesters, I knew it was pretty rare to hear sirens, especially not that many of them. I knew something serious must have happened. When I drove home, I saw the aftermath of a terrible accident. A car rested on its roof on the side of the road, a driver still in the upside down vehicle, debris, and shattered glass were scattered on both sides of the road.

Before coming to AUA, I had been a paramedic for quite a few years. This scene was nothing new to me. What I learned, later on, was that this accident involved an AUA student who was rushed out to a hospital before I saw the scene. The student was critically injured and there was talk of having to fly him off the island for emergency medical care. I didn’t know the student, but couldn’t stop thinking of how terrible it must be. To be struck by a vehicle on an island hundreds of miles away from home.

The true impact of this accident didn’t occur to me until a few months later. I learned that during the immediate aftermath of this tragic accident, none of the dozens of students who witnessed it rendered aid to either of the victims. I was told they desperately tried searching for Emergency Training Center Staff EMTs around campus. In the first couple of years in medical school, we are not taught to treat the patient but how to understand what is wrong. While jumping into action was second nature to me due to my previous career, it was a foreign concept to these students.

From that point forward, I knew what I had to do. I could use my previous training as both an instructor and paramedic to set up some kind of a response system for the campus. This system would train interested students to respond and treat people in cases of a medical emergency as well as put in place some kind of a timely notification system. This would allow people on campus to have easy access to emergency care. I knew that I must not be alone. There had to be others who had previous emergency medical training prior to attending the university.

I worked extensively with the Emergency Medical Training Center on campus and found there was definitely support to take on such a program. The only problem was that it had never been done at AUA. Our schedules are so filled with schoolwork that many don’t want to take on any extra responsibilities. I ruminated on this idea for a while and tried to find a way to make it work.

One day, a fellow classmate and I chatted as we walked to our apartments. We got onto the topic of medical care on campus. She had also seen the need and was trying to figure out the logistics. We talked for weeks and decided to move the idea through the administration. They fully supported our plans. Soon, that plan evolved into the Emergency Response Team.

While we set up meetings and addressed the new Med 1 classes, we found there was a great deal of support on campus. Plus, some students had previous EMT experience. For our first meeting, we taught a first aid class to students interested in taking part in the team.

Now we have a team of about 35-40 members with different levels of training, including pre-hospital paramedics, RNs, and Basic First Aid responders. We will be on call to medically respond to anyone on campus until an ambulance or other advanced care can arrive. We are just normal students who care about our community. If there is another accident on campus, I know there will be students that will be ready to help.

by Ryan Groshon, Class of 2014