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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Club to aid police response

A group of student emergency medical technicians will team up with the University of Arizona Police Department to help shorten response times to students in need of medical attention on campus starting March 1.

The student volunteers, also known as the UA Student Emergency Medical Services, will aim to educate students and faculty in emergency prevention and respond to “anything from cardiac emergencies to minor injuries,” according to Justin Friedenthal, a junior majoring in special education and rehabilitation and co-founder of the volunteer group. Starting in March on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., when an individual on campus calls 911 for a medical emergency, UAPD will dispatch the group, and group members will go to the scene and provide basic care until the Tucson Fire Department arrives, according to Friedenthal.

“We’re bridging the gap,” said Melissa Ludgate, a UA alumna in physiology and the volunteer group’s staff adviser.

The idea to start the service came to Ludgate when she was a resident assistant in the dorms, and saw how long response times could be, she said. One night when she was waiting for UAPD officers to arrive on scene to assist a resident, Friedenthal, a resident at the time, came out of his room and said that as a certified EMT, he was happy to help the resident until officers got there.

From there, the two met with UAPD officers to “gain an understanding of how we could fit in with them,” Ludgate said, and a third student, Brandon Murphy, joined them once the two heard that Murphy was trying to start something similar on campus.

“I teamed up with them (Ludgate and Friedenthal) to help them out,” said Murphy, a pre-communication sophomore. “We’re here to supplement the fire department, not replace them.”

Funding for the service will come from the student services fee through its “Late Night Campus Neighborhood Security” fund, according to Jim Van Arsdel, assistant vice president for Student Affairs. The fund, he said, uses monies from Residence Life, the Dean of Students Office and UAPD. The fund will also help pay for a couple of more police officers to patrol on campus between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, which Van Arsdel said is when most on-campus emergencies occur.

“If you’re a student with a medical emergency, you’ll want them (the volunteer group) to respond,” Van Arsdel said. “Most emergencies don’t typically occur at the easiest time of day.”

Before the service becomes available to students in March, Ludgate said the volunteer EMTs will take a physical fitness test, learn how to use the police radio system, partake in mock drills and participate in bicycle riding training with UAPD officers. In the future, Ludgate said the group plans to provide medical services to tailgaters at UA home football games.

“We found a surprisingly high number of students who had EMT certification and were searching for opportunities to get involved,” Ludgate said. “With this volunteer program, students are able to use their certification and get hands-on experience before entering the workforce.”

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