HERU upgrades medical services

By Mitra Heshmati | April 5, 2006

The Hopkins Emergency Response Unit (HERU) marked its transition from American Red Cross First Responder status to Emergency Medical Technician-Basic (EMT-B) by graduating its first class of Maryland Emergency Medical Technicians in January.

Following an intensive, 132-hour Intersession class taught by firefighters and paramedics of the Baltimore City Fire Department's Fire Academy, the 20 graduates were certified to administer more advanced care and medications than their previous Emergency First Responder (EFR) certification would allow, including that necessary for emergencies ranging from cardiac arrest to poisoning.

In the past, HERU members who received their EMT-B certification from other states have worked alongside the First Responder certified students. The recent class of graduates and HERU's official transition to EMT-B status ensures that a HERU crew will have at least one EMT-B certified student at every call.

"EMTs can give several medications that EFRs cannot, including epinephrine for extreme allergic reactions, nitroglycerin for cardiac trouble and inhaler-delivered drugs for asthma attacks. In addition, EMTs have more training in the area of stabilizing patients for ambulance transport at the scene of car accidents, and other sources of severe trauma," senior and HERU Operations Lt. Nik Ray-Mazumder said.

"We are extremely proud of our first EMT class for their commitment over Intersession for eight hours a day, six days a week and for their 100 percent pass rate on the Maryland EMT exam, a rare event for any EMT class," he added.

"Having worked with Baltimore City Fire Academy instructors as a course administrator, and having been a member of the first EMT class myself, I can say that the 20 graduates are well prepared to tackle the most mundane to the most challenging of emergencies," sophomore and HERU Training Officer Jillian Richmond said.

During their training, the students participated in ride-alongs with a Baltimore City ambulance and assisted with medical emergencies across the city.

"The experience our EMTs had with the city paramedics will be invaluable in preparing them for emergencies that they might not encounter every day on the Hopkins campus," senior Crew Chief Matt Bassett said.

HERU's upgrade to EMT-B status came as the result of several years of effort by various HERO directors and support from Campus Security, Student Health and Wellness and the Baltimore City Fire Department.

"At first, many said that it could not be done or that it was a waste of time, but the persistence of dedicated members, past and present, have gotten us to this point and it is easy to see that it greatly improves the quality of care that we provide for the community," Ray-Mazumder said.

Campus Security Executive Director Edmund Skrodzki facilitated a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Fire Chief William Goodwin between HERU and the Baltimore City Fire Department.

"This MOU provides for on-going training of HERU members by the fire department and improved coordination and interoperability between HERU and the fire department Advanced Life Support transport service," Lt. Steve Ossmus of Campus Safety and Security explained.

Ossmus went on to explain the role of HERU in conjunction with Campus Security and Student Health and Wellness to provide first response for medical emergencies and to evaluate, treat and, if more serious, stabilize patients before the arrival of an ambulance. "Campus Security serves as the link between the first call for medical service and the responding HERU unit," he said.

EMT freshman Nicole Errett commented on her updated role and status, saying, "Being trained as an EMT allows me to approach my patients with a broader base of knowledge and more skills and experience -- I can do more, and I can do it better."

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