After training members to quickly respond to cardiac arrest emergencies and preparing students in CPR and automated external defibrillator use, the University of Richmond Emergency Medical Services was awarded the HeartSafe campus certificate.
UREMS originally received the HeartSafe Campus award from the National Collegiate Emergency Medical Services Foundation in 2013 but was re-certified in March. The recertification comes in the same year as the organization’s 20th anniversary. According to NCEMSF's website, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Syracuse University and Tufts University were among the schools that were re-certified in addition to UR this year.
Junior Zach Anderson, president of UREMS, said the HeartSafe certification was a reaffirmation of not only the team's ability to respond to an emergency, but also its capacity to train students in how to respond during cardiac arrest situations.
Anderson had to apply, and UREMS had to meet NCEMSF's standards in order to be certified, he said. These include rapid response and access to AEDs, public CPR and AED training and early access to advanced care.
Junior Ritwika Bose, UREMS communications officer, said the team's commitment to training the UR community had helped it to receive the certificate. Last semester, UREMS members trained students in Tyler Haynes Commons in hands-only CPR, she said.
More than 10 percent of campus is now trained in CPR, Anderson said.
"Every second counts when you have a cardiac arrest," he said. "Having kids on campus that can help out, wait until an actual first responder gets there, is key to saving somebody's life."
Junior Susie Shepardson, UREMS training officer, said it was impressive that a small school had received the certification. The certification was received with help from the Richmond Ambulance Authority and the University Police Department, she said.
Patrick Oliver helped establish UREMS when he was a senior at the university in 1998. He has been intermittently involved in UREMS since he founded the organization and has watched the team's progression over 20 years, he said.
Oliver started UREMS – called Spiders Advanced Volunteer Emergency Rescue Service, or SAVERS, at the time – 20 years ago in order to solve slow response times to campus, he said. Because UR's campus is between Henrico Country and the City of Richmond, there was a slow response time to emergencies, and it seemed necessary that an on-campus EMS team exist, he said.
Oliver said the award validated the service and professionalism UREMS is able to provide.
"They're only as good as the last patient they took care of," he said. "They have the training, they develop the leadership skills, the presence of mind and everything to really impact people's lives."
Oliver, who is now an attending emergency physician and the director of a medical clinic, said he had enjoyed watching some of the changes UREMS had made over the last 20 years.
"Their awards are validation of how well they are doing at providing excellent service to the residents and the visitors to the University of Richmond," he said.
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