Eagle EMS Rolls Out New Medical Vehicle

Ford Explorer Will Help EMTs Respond To On Campus Medical Emergencies

By Andrew Millette

Assoc. News Editor

Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013

ems 2/16/12

Photo courtesy of Eagle EMS

After a decade of research and proposals, Eagle EMS (EEMS) has finally obtained an emergency response vehicle. A specially-outfitted 2012 Ford Explorer XLT will allow EEMS to give initial medical care to patients anywhere on any one of Boston College's three campuses in the time before an ambulance is able to arrive. This is a massive step forward in the evolution of EEMS, which was previously only able to offer care during events on campus.

"The vehicle is outfitted with everything that an ambulance has, besides a stretcher," said Chris Faherty, president of Eagle EMS and A&S '13. "It is a non-transporting, class five ambulance that actually has even more medicines on board than an average ambulance would." The vehicle is equipped with lights and sirens, radio communications, and a host of medicines and medical equipment, including EpiPens, charcoal, traction splints, trauma equipment, aspirin, and more.

"We have had cases where the application of the kinds of medications the vehicle will carry would have been appropriate," said John King, director of public safety and chief of the BCPD. "In the past, we would have had to wait for the ambulance to bring those kinds of things to the scene, and now Eagle EMS will be able to bring them almost immediately."

Last Friday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Office of Emergency Medical Services declared the emergency response vehicle legally ready for use after completing a three-hour inspection of the vehicle. The Office of Emergency Medical Services also inspected EEMS as an organization and approved of the operating guidelines it has set forth for use of the vehicle.

The emergency response vehicle will be responsible for primary medical response on campus Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. "This vehicle gives us the opportunity to care for students on the weekends in their residence halls," Faherty said. "Now we can initiate care and assess patients before the ambulance gets there. Sometimes there are three medical emergencies at once on campus, and an ambulance can't arrive for 15 minutes. Now we have medications to start to treat people."

On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, three EEMS members will be on duty at all times. Two Eagle EMTs will staff the vehicle. A third will be riding along in the Armstrong Ambulances that are used to care for students and transport them to the hospital. There are currently only 15 experienced EEMS members who are allowed to drive the vehicle, and 15 more who are allowed to ride in it.

Future weekend medical emergencies on campus will require a great amount of teamwork between EEMS, BCPD, and the Armstrong Ambulance Company, as a BCPD officer is required at every medical emergency on campus, and EEMS and Armstrong will share care responsibilities.

"Armstrong has always understood that they will be working with our students," said Patrick Rombalski, vice president of student affairs. "I don't think they distinguish between BC people and Armstrong people. EEMS and Armstrong are really one staff."

The BCPD and EEMS have also developed a strong relationship. "The BCPD works well with Eagle EMS," King said. "Some officers have developed a very strong relationship with EEMS student leaders and often request to be assigned to areas where they can assist the organization. Our officers now are receiving some training on this vehicle and how it will be responding. We will be ensuring that EEMS is dispatched along with the police."

Another organization with which EEMS has developed a relationship is St. Elizabeth's Hospital. This relationship is a legal necessity to allow the emergency response vehicle to have the medicines and equipment it carries. "St. Elizabeth's will act as another advisor, giving medical advice to Eagle EMS students," Rombalski said. "BC already has a strong relationship with the hospital through official channels like health services. Now, Eagle EMS is able to take advantage of that and become part of the fabric of the community."

The emergency response vehicle will be present at all of the events that EEMS covers, and will also be used for community outreach purposes. "Community outreach and education is another important part of our organization," Faherty said. "We work with local elementary schools, teaching them the importance of things like calling 911, and we work with high schools teaching CPR."

EEMS started the process of purchasing this specific emergency response vehicle by submitting a 20-page proposal to the administration last spring, but the work leading up to purchasing this vehicle has lasted a decade.

"There was a proposal for a full ambulance in the early 2000s that was denied, and then another that was rejected four or five years ago," Faherty said. "The administration thought it was a good idea but wanted to give it more time." After the last failed proposal, EEMS abandoned its hopes for an ambulance and switched the focus to a cheaper emergency response vehicle.

"The level of professionalism the students have shown has built up their level of credibility over the past seven or eight years," said Paul Chebator, interim dean of student development. "Eagle EMS now has great leadership. This proposal was also more realistic than the ambulance proposal."

The increase in credibility and quality of the proposal offered by EEMS students was able change the minds of administrators. "We went from a lot of people having problems with it a few years ago, to everyone fully endorsing it," Rombalski said. "What happened was a group of BC students proved themselves. There's never been anything but compliments from faculty or students when EEMS is providing services."

Rombalski was also extremely impressed with EEMS's proposal. "This was by far the most developed proposal I'd ever received. You could never tell this was written by anyone but professionals. It was executive in nature and fully comprehensive."

The great faith the administration has in EEMS allowed the organization to access to funding and support. "There are an incredible number of regulatory steps in this process," Chebator said. "Myself, John King, and the general counsel of the University put a lot of time into getting this process up and running."

"40,000 dollars is a good estimate for the total cost of the project," Rombalski said. "The funding came from the University's operating budget that we use for spending on equipment or building repair. Executive Vice President Pat Keating helped identify the funding and approved it for me to use."

An oversight committee as well as an advisory board will oversee the emergency response vehicle's operations. "I will deal with the administration and coordination, John King will watch over the operational issues, and Dr. Tom Nary will deal with the medical piece," Chebator said. "The three of us will compose the oversight committee. We aren't quite sure who will be on the advisory board yet."

The emergency response vehicle's 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. schedule of service is set to start tonight. This schedule will only be temporary, however.

"By the beginning of next semester, we will look toward expanding coverage to 24 hours a day on the weekends," Faherty said.

This plan is another sign of the great progress EEMS, now in it's 15 year, has made since it was founded.

"I believe interest in this organization is going to continue to grow, and it will become more and more professional," Rombalski said. "I find it hard to believe EEMS will do anything but expand."


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