Equipped with first aid CPR Level C training, automated external defibrillator (AED) administration training, and a strong sense of vigilance, undergraduate UTM students of the Erindale College Special Response Team (ECSpeRT) celebrated 20 years of the St. John Ambulance’s division establishment on campus. To learn more about how ECSpeRT has grown over 20 years and where it hopes to go from there, The Medium sat down with fourth-year UTM student and ECSpeRT divisional training officer, Kiren Kaloty.

“We’re the first response team on campus, and the team is growing exponentially,” says Kaloty, who first started almost four years back. “Being a division of the non-profit organization St. John ambulance, we have two classifications of members: observers, who have standard first aid training, and the red shirts, like myself, who are medical first responders. And together as a team, we provide first aid to any calls either on campus or sometimes events off campus.”

Recalling some of the busiest times of the year, Kaloty says frosh week can get busy. “Because it’s a week-long event, and frosh has events starting early in the morning, and we do on-call coverage at night, as well. So, through ECSpeRT we provide coverage for five days of the week, for 24 hours.” Kaloty says their day time shifts are from 8 AM to 10 PM, “And we do overnight from 10-to-8 the next morning, for five days a week.” The training officer also adds, “We sleep here too. We’re on schedule and it’s a rotation, so we’re here a lot, very often. So it’s definitely become a second home.”

Explaining how she became involved with ECSpeRT, Kaloty says, “I work at a pool and I’ve been working at a pool for about 5 years now, so I had a bit of a background in first aid. And I remember I was in my first year and I saw the team go by me going to the RAWC and they had these huge kits and I had no idea what was inside them. And they were wearing these uniforms, so they were really easy to spot out and recognize, and I was just like, I have to know what is it that they are doing, what exactly is this team—it just seemed really exhilarating.”

At that time, Kaloty says, “I was not involved with anything on campus and I figured I have nothing to lose so let me just try this out, and if it becomes something then so be it—and it definitely became a big part of my life here at UTM. So that was my first year and now I’m in my fourth year and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

For members of the team, and Kaloty herself, managing time between school and ECSpeRT commitments has been challenging. As the team has grown, Kaloty says that for herself especially, managing time has been challenging. “Even more so this year. I’m the divisional training officer on the team, which means I have my own team of training corporals and we collectively train our entire team, and so I have a lot of responsibilities,” she mentions.

In general, the team goes through biweekly training twice a week. As Kaloty adds, “Along with that we also have courses that I help to run, and just other simple things like reading over the patient care records. So, this year this has been sort of a new role that I took on, and being that officer on the executive team—it’s another ball that I had to juggle.”

In reference to navigating her new role as training officer, Kaloty shares, “What I think makes it easier, is actually delegating—learning to delegate tasks. Being in a position that is higher than what I was used to before, [I’m] getting used to delegating tasks and sort of taking on more of a supervising role, but even when I can’t do that, it’s just that I’ve sort of found this new motivation and drive to just keep going […]. I see people learn more and I see people be more engaged in trainings and have more fun and at the end of the day. Even if I’m tired, I think you know what, it’s worth it.”

As Kaloty explains, members of the ECSpeRT team are divided into member services, finance management, equipment management, staffing, and members who promote ECSpeRT on campus. “We also have a department that works on scheduling people for on-call shifts, overnight shifts, [and] event shifts,” says Kaloty.

Kaloty says that although the team has grown significantly over the last recent years, the team hopes to promote the organization on campus by making use of social media in particular. “We hope to establish our presence on campus—as you can see, the red shirts are conspicuous. But I think social media is a very useful tool for spreading awareness among students, so they know we are a resource available to them on campus,” says Kaloty, adding, “And we also hope that this may motivate students to join and find something they are passionate about, the way it did for me.”

According to Kaloty, other future potential projects for ECSpeRT include proposing the installation of more AED units on campus, and requesting larger office space to accommodate a growing team.