Next time you find yourself passed out on the president's lawn, you may be surprised to receive on-the-spot medical treatment from one of your classmates. Starting this fall, Dartmouth College Emergency Medical Services will be on call 48 hours a week, from 7 p.m. Friday to 7 p.m. Sunday, responding to all medical calls phoned in to Safety and Security.
Dartmouth EMS will provide the service free of charge to the student body. It will require two trained emergency medical technicians, as well as a third person with CPR certification or higher, to be accessible by radio at all times during the 48-hour weekend period.
"Any call that S&S gets we would also receive and we will respond to any scene where an S&S officer needs medical help," said Jeff Spielberg '10, EMS equipment officer.
The entirely student-run program is set to start Oct. 12, Spielberg said. The launch date, however, is contingent on the College upgrading its radio system so that the group would have its own channel to pick up calls from Safety and Security relating to medical issues.
Dartmouth EMS began in the early 1990s as a small group of students interested in medical treatment. Since gaining a state license for Basic Life Support in 1999, the group has been providing standby coverage for highly-attended events, as well as teaching courses on CPR and basic first aid.
The organization has been growing steadily, and interest in the group is higher than it has ever been, according to Pardesi.
"When I joined, we all ate out of one box of Ramunto's," Pardesi said. "At the [most recent] Student Activities Fair, I had 87 people sign up."
As the program progresses, Dartmouth EMS hopes to increase its coverage from 48 hours per week to full-time coverage for the College.
"This program is endeavoring us to not bite off more than we can chew," said EMS Assistant Director Omar Pardesi '09. "We will need to work out a few kinks; that's why we are starting out only on the weekends."
When responding to Good Samaritan calls, Safety and Security officers are not legally allowed to make medical decisions, said EMS Director Jiayi Hao '08. Instead, they follow a set of rules when deciding whether or not to involve the Hanover Fire Department. Generally, Safety and Security will send intoxicated student to Dick's House, where nurses will determine if the patient needs an ambulance for immediate emergency treatment at Dartmouth-Hitchock Medical Center.
Dartmouth EMS will be better able to judge whether the student requires emergency treatment, Hao said.
"When we respond to a situation, we will be able to make the decision as to whether a student needs an ambulance or should just be sent to Dick's House," Hao said. "This cuts down the time it would take to send the student to Dick's House, especially if they are in bad shape and need to be taken to the DHMC right away."
If there is a need to involve the Hanover Fire Department, the dispatch of Dartmouth EMS immediately calls for an ambulance. Dartmouth EMS members believe that they will be able to respond to a situation quicker than Hanover Fire, and that this could make a difference between life and death in extreme circumstances.
"When the heart stops and CPR needs to be initiated, seconds really do matter," Pardesi said. "A minute seems trivial, but the chances that someone will survive when their heart stops decrease exponentially by the minute."
EMTs will be responsible for providing their own form of transportation to the scene, but are currently working to figure out whether Safety and Security will be able to provide rides as well, Spielberg said.
If the program is successful, Dartmouth EMS hopes to have its own vehicle in the future, he added.
Although students may find themselves being treated by a fellow classmate, EMS members will be legally bound to protect the privacy of their patients. As is the case with all EMTs, breaking patient confidentiality could result in legal action or a loss of EMT certification.