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SG Emergency Transportation Vehicle ‘Bull’ speed ahead

After delays due to issues with marketing and volunteer paperwork, the Medical Response Unit program is set to launch this semester. ORACLE FILE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

Student Health Services (SHS), in partnership with the University Emergency Medical Student Association (UEMSA) and Student Government (SG), will launch a Medical Response Unit (MRU) program aimed at providing students with an on-campus medical transportation system free of charge this semester.

As of Oct. 9, no official launch date had been set by SHS. However, Stephen Poff, medical director of the MRU and faculty adviser for UEMSA, said the launch will occur this semester.

According to Poff, the MRU will provide Basic Life Support (BLS) services to students, staff and faculty on campus.  Each shift will have a medical supervisor, one EMT and two first responders on duty.

“This is indeed a transport unit,” said Operations Coordinator for the MRU Austin Jared. “We’re not a 911 service, we are a field extension of Student Health Services. So we can come we can stabilize you up to the BLS level.”

The MRU will operate during SHS’s normal hours — Mondays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. When launched, students can request an MRU by dialing 9744-MRU.

The MRU will be comprised of certified student volunteers and will be overseen by SHS. Volunteers need to have either an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) certification, an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification or a paramedic certification as well as a BLS CPR card.

Once volunteers are selected, they will go through an orientation where they will attend mock trainings and drills while practicing how to write reports and the procedures on treating a patient.

Volunteers who will be driving the MRU are required to complete a 16-hour Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC) in order to be certified. The training consists of mapping out the campus and finding the quickest route to get to certain buildings.

There are two designated parking spots on campus for the MRU, one behind SHS and the other at the college of nursing.

According to Travis McCloskey, student body vice president, the vehicles were purchased during fall 2018, under former student body president Moneer Kheireddine’s tenure. At the time, SG allocated $74,300 for the purchase of one MRU vehicle.

Jared said some of the factors for the delay in launching the initiative are due to pending approval from USF marketing for the vehicle’s decal as well as volunteers’ background checks from Human Resources.

In addition to the cost of the vehicle, SG will contribute $2,000 per year for the cost of external detailing and maintenance for the MRU vehicle while SHS will provide all of the quality control and medical direction, the protocols and oversight, according to Jared.

While SG funded the vehicle, UEMSA allocated $25,000 to purchase equipment, including the stair chair, retrofit for the stretcher and power load, among others. According to Jared, most of the funds from UEMSA comes from the revenue generated by the EMR training.

“As we’ve been generating money from the course, we’ve been reinvesting all of it into the course by getting nicer equipment so the course sustains itself,” Jared said. “All the money that doesn’t go back into the course goes toward funding the medical supplies from that standby or goes to the Medical Response program now that it’s created.” 

With the goal to provide a service free to students as an incentive for students to seek help when needed, Jared said that help will be offered to any student, regardless of the severity of their injury.

“If a student calls us, we will go and help,” Jared said. “You could stub your toe, it does not matter. We’re here to help. We’re not there to judge if your medical call is serious enough. We’ll take them to the clinic, that’s what we’re here for.”