Student Emergency Medical Services to begin operating on campus this year

Hoping to develop a functioning on-call service in the next few years

Jenae McInnes, News Editor

A new student organization at Westmont aims to fill a gap in student safety response: efficient after-hours response to medical emergencies. Student Emergency Medical Services, or SEMS, was started by fourth-year pre-med student and licensed EMT Paige Freeburg and former student Micah Gee last year, acknowledging the lack of 24/7 medical response available on campus and the location of Westmont as farther away from responding emergency services. Freeburg also cited Westmont’s proximity to natural disasters such as the disastrous 2008 Tea Fire which swept through campus and the 2017 Thomas fire and ensuing mudslides in Montecito.  

Freeburg said SEMS is a student-run organization that branches off under the Institutional Resilience Department at Westmont. Organizations like it have a precedent at other colleges around the nation, including Santa Clara University, one of Freeburg’s inspirations in starting the organization at Westmont. 

Freeburg — upon researching the need for an organization such as SEMS at Westmont — said, “with our campus tucked in the hills, it takes a bit more time for an ambulance to get here and unfortunately Westmont has had its fair share of natural disasters.” Further, Freeburg added that though many students may think it unlikely for them to end up in medical emergencies, “the reality is there may be a bad car wreck, you may fall down the stairs or off your bunk, or you may even have an underlying medical condition that you don’t know of. SEMS would be there to provide life-saving care like CPR or splinting while we wait for the ambulance.” 

SEMS’ ultimate goal is to have a functioning on-call system in which “students who double as Emergency Medical Technicians can volunteer to be on-call and available to help with emergencies at night.” However, Freeburg acknowledges that this goal will take a few years to fully achieve while the club gathers certified members and experience. 

In the meantime, SEMS’ main focus is on creating a “culture of safety” on campus. Freeburg explained that the organization would be offering safety classes such as CPR and Stop the Bleed, classes that teach life saving techniques to prevent victims bleeding out, to students. Adding onto this, SEMS hopes to soon implement “an event staffing service for clubs where a club can request EMT presence at their event.”

While SEMS’ aim is to add an extra layer of protection to campus, Freeburg expressed that it doubly serves as a way for students who want experience in working in the medical field and acquire leadership skills. 

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