Help shorten unacceptably lengthy emergency response times at the University of Texas
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We are Longhorn Emergency Medical Services (EMS), a registered student organization comprised of over 70 volunteer student EMTs (emergency medical technicians).
Since 2003, this organization has been growing and has sought to provide more prompt emergency medical care to students and faculty. The 9.1-minute Austin-Travis County EMS response time to patient contact is unacceptable and will become increasingly longer as the university becomes less accessible to motor vehicles, thanks to the infamous Austin traffic.
In fact, the medical director of Austin-Travis County EMS reached out to us over a year ago when he began his new position. As a founder of Rice University's student EMS service 20 years ago, he was horrified to learn that we did not have our own EMS service, especially for such a large inaccessible campus.
Sadly, lengthy response times were very evident in the response to the vicious attack that struck our campus this spring. The fire department and responding ambulances came from far distances and faced issues accessing the students that had suffered injuries in the stabbing attack. Not only is such a lengthy response time to such a disaster frustrating, it is appalling. Longhorn EMS estimates an average 3-minute response time to patient contact, given that our operations would be out of Jester center. This 6-minute faster response time could have translated into the preservation of multiple lives. Even though our group had not been implemented into the 911 system at that date, many of our EMTs were on the scene before any emergency medical services arrived. Our EMTs attempted to provide care with limited equipment.
Currently, there are hundreds of universities in the United States that have implemented student-run emergency medical response teams to supplement their sub-par city response times. Texas A&M and Rice University are a few noteworthy ones. The administration believes that a “chilling effect” will discourage students from calling 911 in sensitive situations if students are among the first responders. The NCBEMS (National Collegiate Boards of EMS) cites no such effect has been noted. Advocacy programs taught by students first responders to their peers have been found to decrease the amount of time taken for students to call 911 in the first place. As EMTs, we have always been instructed to best match the provider on the scene of an emergency with the demographics of the patient (ie. Age, gender). This encourages more comfortable dialogue and better outcomes for the patient – especially when the presenting problem is sensitive.
Unfortunately, after securing almost all the needed equipment and funding through our own motives and fundraisers, the University is seeking to sever ties and any future funding for Longhorn EMS. Though we have had strong support from the Dean of Students, the Executive and Legislative Branches of Student Government, and UTPD, Longhorn EMS has been deflected and shut down by the president’s office - who don't want to take any liability and believe we should work with the city instead. We understand a natural avoidance to legal risk, but at a cost of human lives?
We vigorously disagree with the President’s decision. The University’s bottom line cannot outweigh the life-saving benefits of decreased response times. Longhorn EMS will cut our emergency medical response times by one-third at very little added cost. We have been fortunate enough to have the full support of Austin-Travis County EMS in working toward establishing our own FRO (First Response Agreement) and are frustrated by the University’s inability or unwillingness to make constructive policy changes in the wake of the tragedy that struck us this Spring.
If you could help raise awareness of this issue we would be tremendously grateful. By signing this petition, you are sending a message to President Fenves that UT needs to be a safer place for all of its students.
If you would like to do more, we encourage you to reach out to the various UT administrative officials but specifically the office of President Gregory Fenves (512-471-1232, firstname.lastname@example.org ). Student safety should be our highest priority. With your help, we may be able to make this a reality.
Many thanks and Hook’em Horns!
The officers of Longhorn EMS
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