As you may know, ECSpeRT is a volunteer, student-run, not-for-profit organization that provides medical first aid coverage here at UTM. We are a division of St John Ambulance and our members are trained to the Medical First Responder (MFR) Level, the highest primary care level on campus.
Currently we provide a 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. On Call service from Monday to Friday. If a medical emergency occurs during this time, Campus Police will contact our office and two of our members who are “On Call” will be dispatched with their equipment to handle the situation and treat the patient until an ambulance, if required, arrives. Our goal is to be able to provide a 24/5 On Call service to the campus. We did a trial run one night this session and received three calls that night (two of which required an ambulance), more than the rest of the week combined. We can’t help but wonder what could happen if we were able to cover every night, all night. Western, McMaster and even UTSC have not only 24/5, but 24/7 On Call Response Teams, and we feel that UTM has the potential to match and even exceed those standards. When you call 911 from UTM, the ambulance has only one address for this entire campus and must wait for a campus police escort to show them where they need to go. The average ambulance response time to UTM is around six minutes, and brain damage occurs within four minutes without oxygen. ECSpeRT bridges that gap between when a person falls ill and 911 arrives to prevent further injury and potentially save lives. In 2004, a math TA died with heart trouble due to an overlying medical condition. This was what really kick started the process of creating an On Call service by ECSpeRT.
However, because all our members are students, we have a high turnover rate, meaning the average member stays between two to three years on the team. Then we need to train additional responders. This training is expensive as we require only a deposit from our members (a small portion of the true cost) that is returned after completion of certain number of patient care hours. As such, we are currently unable to provide a 24/5 On Call service due to lack of funding to train more members.
This is why passing the referendum for raising our levy fee from $0.20/session per full-time undergraduate student to $0.50/session per full-time undergraduate student is so important to us. With the extra funds from this levy, we could train more MFRs, implement 24/5 On Call, provide more first aid courses and cover more events. Currently, we receive $0.40 from each full-time undergraduate student for the full year. Our proposed levy will increase this to $1/year. For $1 a year from every full-time undergraduate student, we could make this campus a much safer place and provide more medical services, all for less than the cost of a cup of coffee. An interesting point to also keep in mind is that the levy only applies to full-time undergraduate students, yet we respond to calls from anyone, anywhere on campus, including professors, graduate students, part-time students, administrative staff, the daycare and anyone else, even if they do not contribute to our levy.
This year, a plan has come to fruition that we have been working on for the past several years. One of our goals was to have an automated external defibrillator (AED) in every building on campus, and with the help of the Mikey Network (who has kindly donated the AEDs), we have been able to get four AEDs for the campus. One will be placed in the library and we have already trained the library staff in its use. The other three will be placed in Kaneff, CCT and at Roy Ivor Hall (OPH and the gym already have their own). This wouldn’t have been possible without the Mikey Network as we don’t have the funds to supply the AEDs on our own. The money from the levy will be put toward projects such as this and getting more equipment for the team.
To put it in perspective for you, last session from September to November there were 39 medical calls (On Call and events), 17 of which required 911 and ambulance services. These involved unconsciousness, seizures, diabetic emergencies, anaphylaxis (allergic reaction) and asthma/breathing difficulties among others. As the campus continues to grow with new buildings and new students, the number of medical emergencies will increase as well and ECSpeRT needs to grow too to be able to accommodate the needs of the campus.
All students are encouraged to come out and volunteer with ECSpeRT, participate in Standard First Courses and/or ask for our services to provide medical coverage for their events. The money from the levy will be put directly back into the campus by providing more of these services for students as well as providing a 24/5 On Call campus emergency service.
Divisional Training Officer
Erindale College Special Response Team