College EMS Week Kicks Off

College campuses can be fertile ground for injury and illness. From the close quarters and sometimes-dubious hygiene to the immoderate consumption and plain old recklessness of youth, students can find themselves in frequent need of emergency medical services.

That’s one of the reasons college EMS services are important. We celebrate those starting today with Collegiate EMS Week.

Modeled after the National EMS Week observed in May and similarly sponsored by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), Collegiate EMS Week is held the second week of each November to recognize and celebrate campus EMS. Like their counterparts in the community at large, college EMSers can also use the opportunity to highlight what they do and educate those who might need them—on campus or off.

“Colleges develop and train those that will serve as future leaders both within the healthcare community and community at large,” notes the National Collegiate EMS Foundation. “NCEMSF encourages you to develop activities that not only reach out to your campus community, but also include your campus’ greater community.”

To help college squads celebrate, NCEMSF offers a free downloadable EMS week packet. It includes information ranging from press releases and handouts services can use to ideas for EMS Week activities and tips for communicating effectively.

Collegiate EMS Week begins each year with a National Collegiate CPR Day, intended for teaching CPR to as many college students as possible. NCEMSF suggests activities like holding classes or educational meetings or even just setting up public information tables where people can pick up literature or try CPR on a manikin. It also offers a CPR Day resource packet for free download.

What One Group Is Doing

In New York, Syracuse University Ambulance (SUA), a student organization that answers more than 1,500 medical emergencies a year, is conducting a full week of educational activities from Nov. 7–12. It’s starting on Monday with CPR group trainings that are free to all comers; as of last Friday, it had more than 150 students slated to attend. Wednesday will bring a medical emergency simulation at the school’s Schine Student Center, supplemented by informative handouts about calling 9-1-1. And throughout the week, SUA members will be conducting blood pressure screenings for students, staff and faculty around the university.

Formed in 1973, SUA operates two full-time ALS ambulances, a supervisor fly car and a MCI trailer. It also has four medical vans for nonemergency transports. It provides 24/7 emergency and nonemergency services during the school year, funded through student health fees.

Other possible Collegiate EMS Week activities suggested by the NCEMSF include:

  • Open houses—Invite students, parents, administrators and/or the media to tour your facilities and learn about your capabilities. Don’t forget the neighboring/mutual aid EMS groups it’s so important to know.
  • Blood drivesCoordinate with the local Red Cross chapter, which can assist.
  • Media outreachContact campus and local publications and broadcast outlets about profiling your group. Consider offering ride-alongs.
  • Joint trainingsSchedule a joint training class with a local EMS or fire/rescue service.
  • Health fairsWork with your college health service on an event where you can perform screenings, distribute information and perhaps, at this time of year, give flu shots. Local businesses may be willing to donate raffle prizes or valuable services.
  • Dorm safety effortsEducate students on dorm safety and what to do in emergencies. This is also a recruitment opportunity.

Formed in 1993, NCEMSF represents 246 college EMS groups in 41 states and 4 Canadian provinces. It hosts an annual conference, which will next be held Feb. 24–26, 2012, in Baltimore.