Beginning this month, Case Western Reserve University’s student-run Emergency Medical Services (EMS) will be expanding their hours to have 24-hour coverage Thursday through Sunday. The standard coverage for CWRU EMS prior to February was 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. Monday through Thursday and 24 hours Friday through Sunday, but with this increase in hours, CWRU EMS will be available to help in cases of campus emergencies at hours they previously could not.
CWRU EMS was first imagined in the 2003-2004 school year by then-second-year student Ari Rabkin and then-first-year student Joseph Grover. The idea was to provide quality care at CWRU with a student-run volunteer EMS, like those established at other peer universities. CWRU EMS now works in conjunction with the Cleveland Heights Fire Department and carries out shifts with the aid of a vehicle, ensuring that they can reach the entire campus expeditiously.
Members of the EMS can work a wide range of hours depending on experience. On average, less seasoned volunteers contributed between 10 and 12 hours a month while more senior members may assist between five and 20 hours per week. Becoming a member of CWRU EMS requires an EMT certification that is valid in Ohio, certifications in CPR and Hazard Communications training, bloodborne pathogens training and knowledge of the National Incident Command System.
Being a member of CWRU EMS offers a unique opportunity to learn and use medical skills, then put them into practice with members of the campus community. Assistant Chief of Operations and third-year chemistry major Anna Swetz emphasizes the independence students experience as part of CWRU EMS, because “once members become certified EMTs and pass our internal testing and promotion process, they take on the responsibility for all care and decisions made on an emergency call.”
Swetz acknowledges the dual nature of the student-run organization, as “EMS experience teaches not only medical skills but decision making and operational problem solving, while the club aspect of our organization allows members to build strong friendships with peers and learn from older members. We do serious work but we also definitely have a lot of fun together.”
Although CWRU EMS has only recently expanded their hours into weekdays, they recognized the need for extended service hours last year. Swetz says that “we transitioned to being dispatched (notified of emergencies and sent to respond to them) via smartphone app last year, and the transition allowed us to see that it is very common for people to need EMS during the day when we do not normally have shift.”
As the EMS program has grown and become better established, they have set their sights on expanding coverage of campus. Though CWRU EMS currently has 15 hour coverage Monday through Wednesday, Swetz says, “our long term goal is to expand to 24/7 coverage of campus. Expanding hours now allows us to move towards this in manageable increments and troubleshoot difficulties that may arise in changing who is on shift between class periods, and having shift meet on the quad to accommodate members’ class schedules.”
Later this year, CWRU EMS hopes to eventually expand to 24-hour coverage on Wednesdays as well.