The Collegian
Saturday, June 25, 2022

New radios will allow EMTs to get help sooner

Student emergency medical technicians will, as of this semester, be able to communicate with nearly all public safety organizations in the area using a two-way radio system.

The student EMTs are members of UREMS, a first-responder agency that has about 25 active members and is composed entirely of undergraduates. The new radios allow the students to communicate with the Richmond Ambulance Authority and the Henrico Fire Department, among other organizations, to ensure they arrive on campus as quickly as possible.

"With this system, we will be better informed on what to expect on scene, ensure that no ambulance ever gets lost on campus, and be able to keep all medical personnel safer in general," said Eric Rudofker, a member of UREMS.

According to Andrew Slater, president of UREMS, the University of Richmond campus is known in the EMS community as being extremely difficult to navigate for ambulances, as buildings don't follow a numerically sequential pattern and many of the small roads don't appear on GPS navigation systems.

"When ambulance crews who are unfamiliar with campus are only told that they need to respond to Lora Robins Court, they might as well have been told to respond to the moon," Slater said.

The new radios were donated by the Richmond Ambulance Authority, of which UREMS is a subentity. Slater hopes that they will decrease the time gap between a 911 call being placed and the arrival of emergency medical responders.

The city of Richmond has one of the highest EMS call volumes per capita in the country and so ambulances may not be able to respond immediately to a call. A first-responder agency, such as UREMS, can provide critical care in the time before an ambulance arrives.

"Our first task is to identify and treat any immediate life-threatening conditions such as a compromised airway, anything obstructing the patient's breathing, or a severe bleed," Rudofker said.

During the academic year, there are two students on call 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Slater estimated that they receive an average of one to two calls a day, with about half of those being alcohol-related emergencies during the weekends.

In light of this statistic, the members of UREMS are also working to pass a medical amnesty policy that would protect students with alcohol-related emergencies from university sanctions. This would mitigate the fear of punishment that may deter students from calling for medical attention for their friends, ultimately creating a safer environment, Slater said.

The members of UREMS have finalized a proposal for the policy and intend to meet with the student governments and deans, with the hope of adopting the policy by next semester.

Contact staff writer Maria Ribas at mariaelisa.ribas@richmond.edu

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