BYU Emergency Medical Service provides timely help



    Getting help for a medical emergency on campus is as easy as dialing 911.

    While this isn’t anything new, the Emergency Medical Technicians on campus said most people don’t realize that when they dial 911 from a campus phone, they will be connected with dispatchers on campus.

    Dispatch will immediately alert the EMTs and will call the Provo paramedics if the emergency is serious.

    The on-campus EMTs are a part of the BYU Emergency Medical Service. BYU EMS was created two years ago to provide faster help during medical emergencies on campus, he said.

    All forty of the EMTs on campus are student volunteers who have trained and certified to provide medical assistance, said David Blackett, former head duty supervisor for Emergency Medical Services.

    Blackett, 24, a senior from Murray majoring in zoology, said many problems on campus aren’t serious enough to require a paramedic.

    He added that since all of the EMTs are students, they know where all the buildings and classrooms are.

    “I know the police officers appreciate it a lot that they don’t have to go to every routine call,” Blackett said.

    Erik Richardson, 23, a senior from Tooele majoring in Latin American studies and another former head duty supervisor, said, “Our most valuable asset is that we are here on campus and can get to anywhere fairly soon, within two minutes.”

    “It has been a great experience. You feel like you are a part of the campus community by helping to keep things safe around campus.”

    — Justin White, EMT

    To become an EMT, students train for four months and learn a variety of skills, such as CPR, wilderness first aid and bleeding control, Blackett said.

    He said an EMT’s certification lasts for three years, but weekly training meetings help EMTs to refresh skills or learn new skills.

    When they go out on serious or life-threatening calls, EMTs also watch the techniques of the paramedics with local ambulance services who respond to those type of calls, he said.

    Blackett said the EMTs handle more than 500 calls a year. Most of those calls aren’t life threatening, he said.

    Blackett said Emergency Medical Services gets a lot of calls during the summer, especially while the summer camps are in session.

    Blackett said the EMTs have several of what they call “frequent flyers,” — people who call for help on a regular basis. One person in particular has called in 46 times, he said.

    Richardson said one time a caller had a toothpick stuck in his teeth. The EMTs responded, arrived at the scene and pulled out the toothpick.

    Richardson said it is amazing what people will call for, but the EMTs will respond to any call — serious or not.

    Each EMT volunteers eight hours per week, and while many are doing it to gain experience for their future medical career, they say it is also rewarding to provide a free service to the university, Richardson said.

    “It is a very valuable service to the university. There are probably over 35,000 people here on campus at any given moment, and obviously with that many people you are bound to have medical emergencies,” he said.

    Richardson said many times the people they assist are very grateful for their help. One time the EMTs helped a girl home when her wheelchair broke. She thanked them with a plate of cookies.

    Justin White, 24, a senior from Petaluma, Calif., majoring in communications studies and an EMT, said, “It has been a great experience. You feel like you are a part of the campus community by helping to keep things safe around campus.”

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