Travis Nguyen/Photo Editor
After a year of inactivity, the McMaster Students Union Emergency First Response Team is running again
According to their Facebook page, the McMaster Students Union Emergency First Response Team is “a 24/7 service that provides confidential medical care to anyone in need on the McMaster University campus.” With approximately thirty volunteers working to provide emergency medical services, EFRT has been a fixture on campus since the 1980s.
EFRT is a group of undergraduate students who are trained to respond to a variety of medical emergencies. According to EFRT Program Director Ivy Quan, all EFRT volunteers have been trained as first responders and emeregency medical responders under the Red Cross. Some of the more senior members of EFRT have further medical training as well.
During the 2020-2021 school year, EFRT was inactive due to COVID-19.
“[EFRT wasn’t] really on call last year because campus was closed and everything moved online, so the responders weren't in Hamilton to run shifts,” explained Quan.
According to Quan, EFRT dedicated its time over the course of the last year towards training a new batch of responders. This year, given that campus has reopened, EFRT is back on call.
“We do have to put in a lot of steps to make sure that our responders as well as the patients that we see are safe [from COVID-19],” said Kiran Roy, EFRT's public relations coordinator.
According to Roy, these safety steps involve mandatory personal protective equipment training for responders, mandatory masks for patients and bystanders — unless a mask would interfere with treatment for the patient — and two different rounds of COVID-19 screening questions.
Roy and Quan both emphasized the importance of the role that EFRT plays on campus.
“We know our way around campus because we're part of the university,” Roy explained.
This allows EFRT to get to calls very quickly, making the response time faster for patients.
Along with the logistical benefits of calling EFRT, Roy and Quan both stressed the emotional benefits as well.
“I think it probably creates a sense of ease amongst the patients that we meet because they know that we're just like them and we're also students. We understand what they're going through from a mental health point of view,” said Roy.
According to Quan, EFRT receives approximately 500 calls a year. While many of these calls are medical emergencies, their role on campus goes beyond this as well.
“We also do a lot of calls to, [for example], first years, who are worried about something; we also are a mental health service,” explained Quan.
“We may be an emergency response team, but if anyone is unsure about their health, [unsure about] their safety, even just a little bit not sure what's going on, they can always call us and we're happy to come,” said Roy.
Applications to join EFRT will open in early October and the recruitment process will take place from October to January.
“We're so excited to be back on call,” Quan said.
As EFRT responders welcome a year of getting back into action, McMaster students can also look forward to seeing the team all around campus once again.
By Balsam Fasih
Changing standards of care are pushing the McMaster Students’ Union Emergency First Response Team to adopt Quality CPR, a training device that gives trainees feedback on the quality of their chest compressions.
While it is not part of traditional CPR training courses, Q-CPR is quickly becoming part of changing standards of care for cardiac arrest patients, now being used by Hamilton’s Emergency Medical Systems.
Currently, EFRT uses mannequins that give trainees a limited amount of feedback in first-aid courses. However, in the near future, EFRT program director Samantha Aung plans to purchase a Q-CPR mannequin to be used for training as well.
In particular, Aung plans to acquire an AED attachment that provides real-time feedback on CPR quality for use in the field. This would not require a dramatic change in protocols, but the team’s medical director will help ensure the new protocols are up to standards.
“When a major emergency such as a cardiac arrest occurs, you want those who are attending to it to be well-trained and be using the best tools to provide the best outcomes,” said Aung. “In a busy place such as Hamilton, where the local EMS system can sometimes be stretched, we want to make sure our team has the ability to care for a patient as best as possible until further care arrives and to us, that means the implementation of Q-CPR.”
CPR quality has been shown to have a significant impact on patient survival rates. For instance, a 2012 study published in the journal Critical Care Medicine found that when chest compressions are performed at a depth that is less than 38 millimeters, survival rates for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest are 30 per cent lower.
Another study published in the journal Circulation in 2005 found that when chest compressions are performed too slowly, it is less likely that spontaneous circulation will return for in-hospital cardiac arrest cases.
According to Aung, EFRT has been seeking Q-CPR for a few years now. The changing guidelines have accelerated the movement to adopt Q-CPR. If financial approval is obtained, EFRT will begin using Q-CPR within the next year.
“Q-CPR is becoming a part of the standard at which people should be trained,” Aung said. “We are trying to meet those standards, thus wanting to get Q-CPR.”
Overall, Q-CPR works to improve the quality of CPR. With the addition of Q-CPR to the EFRT toolkit, responders should be increasingly well-trained and equipped to provide CPR in the event of an emergency.