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.
Your heart rate is racing, your blood pressure is through the roof, you can feel the adrenaline running through your... EpiPen?
Over reading week, members of McMaster’s Emergency First Response Team competed at the National Conference of Campus Emergency Responders. After a morning filled with informative lectures, a team of three members− Chris, Sachin, and myself− ran through 15 different simulations meant to represent medical emergencies that could be seen on campus.
Chris was able to regain a central pulse on an electric shock patient after 10 intense minutes of CPR. Sachin manually immobilized the cervical spine of a patient who fell down the stairs. I was able to catch a carbon monoxide leak that could have left all three responders unconscious. Along with these individual efforts, we competed as a team to tackle a mass casualty simulation. After all the marks were counted up the McMaster team came second overall out of 16 teams from other campuses in Canada.
While the conference was fun and informative, going to competitions such as these is not our main objective. The main goal of this team is to respond to medical emergencies on the McMaster campus and serve the students, employees, faculty and visitors.
Over 30 volunteers are part of the Emergency First Response Team and provide 24-hour coverage seven days a week during the school year and 9-5 coverage five days a week during the summer months. We also teach a number of first aid courses throughout the year. All team members are certified as Emergency Medical Responders and more senior members are trained in International Trauma Life Support and Advanced Medical Life Support. We are trained to respond to a variety of calls including cardiac arrests, syncopal episodes, musculoskeletal injuries, allergic reactions and diabetic emergencies and have an average response time of 2-3 minutes.
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to contact EFRT there are a number of ways we can be reached. The direct number, 905-522-4135, or simply “88” from any campus landline puts you straight through to McMaster Security Services which dispatches us. We can also be called through the “MUSST” app or by pressing the emergency button on any red emergency pole on campus.
On March 24, we will pair up with SHEC to perform our annual Impaired Driving Simulation. At this event we will simulate how we respond to a call in front of University Hall in between classes every hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. We encourage you to come check out this action-packed simulation. If you ever have any questions about the team come by our office, MUSC 103, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.