USF Medical Response Crew Answers Calls to Campus Clinic
University of South Florida Bulls too sick or injured to get to the campus health clinic now have an easy solution: call the new student-staffed Medical Response Unit.
The medical transport service — run by Bulls certified as Emergency Medical Responders (EMR), Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT), and paramedics — will triage and take students to Student Health Services on the Tampa campus.
Organizers have scheduled an inaugural launch event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 13 at the Marshall Student Center lawn to showcase the new Medical Response Unit van and its services.
The initiative, led by volunteers with the University Emergency Medicine Student Association (UEMSA), will act as a field extension of the campus clinic and operate during the clinic’s hours. Crews will offer the service starting at 9:45 a.m. on weekdays and will end shifts at 6 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays, and 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The idea is to provide a service to students who need medical attention, but don’t think an ambulance is warranted.
Leaders emphasized that the medical transport service does not replace students calling 911 in emergencies.
“We’re not looking to supplant the existing EMS. We’re looking to supplement it. Basically we are adding an additional layer, not replacing one,” said Austin Jared, a co-founder of the Medical Response Unit and Student Health Services’ Operations Coordinator for the program. “If they need 911, they would call 911. That’s what they exist to do. What we exist to do is to fill the gap in between.”
Jared said the new service fills a vital need by expanding a student’s access to medical care.
For example, if a student falls and sprains an ankle, the MRU crews could respond, provide basic life support care, and transport them to the clinic for medical attention. And if the student needs further x-rays, they would take them to the on-campus imaging facility.
Sebastian Smith, president of the UEMSA and co-founder of the Medical Response Unit, said the inter-facility medical transport service has been in the planning stages for years.
“The biggest hurdle was the lack of responders,” Smith said.
But over the past four years, the student group has been training volunteers in an Emergency Medical Responder course in an effort to build up their ranks. With about 60 volunteers trained, the group now has enough members to staff the service and run three-hour shifts during the clinic’s hours of operation.
The service also marks a new educational collaboration with the College of Nursing.
The college is providing space for the Medical Response Unit substation as well as a designated parking spot for the Medical Response Unit van. The group will run calls from the College of Nursing building, as well as Student Health Services.
In turn, nursing students interested in emergency medicine will have the opportunity to train with the UEMSA volunteers in a unique interdepartmental and interprofessional opportunity.
At a recent training session, students in an emergency nursing seminar gained exposure to pre-hospital medicine. UEMSA trainers showed students what EMTs and paramedics do in the field by teaching the nursing students trauma packaging, back boarding, and full-body spinal immobilization of injured patients.
Brittny Chabalowski, program director for the college’s upper division nursing program, welcomed the cross-training with pre-hospital providers and said the partnership furthers the college’s interprofessional education goals.
“We hope to have everyone involved in the continuum of the patient care understand everyone’s roles and responsibilities,” she said.
“Ultimately, we always look for patient outcomes. We’re striving to train nurses to have a good understanding of all the roles of the health care team, so at the end of the day, we deliver great patient care,” said Dr. Chabalowski.
Nursing student Anna Hopen, who helps to teach the Emergency Medical Responder course and will work shifts on the Medical Response Unit, said the chance to train together in an educational setting is invaluable.
“I think it just goes naturally together, because this is an emergency nursing seminar and you work very closely with pre-hospital care providers,” she said. “Starting that relationship here is important. It’ll be a great chance for people to learn from the EMRs, the EMTs, and the paramedics.”
To request the Medical Response Unit, USF faculty, students, and staff should call (813) 974-4MRU.
Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing