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UA Endorses Changes In Medical Transport

By Mike Hall and Melissa Cain

STAFF REPORTERS

The Undergraduate Association Council unanimously passed a resolution last night supporting confidential medical transport, in the hope of encouraging students to seek aid for their intoxicated friends.

The resolution, authored by UA Committee on Student Life Co-Chair Josiah D. Seale ’02, recommends that MIT employ an outside ambulance service to handle medical transport requests. Currently, Campus Police officers handle emergency transports in their dual roles as Emergency Medical Technicians.

“It’s good that CPs are EMTs, but it’s not good that our only EMTs are CPs,” Seale said. “Students don’t feel completely comfortable around the CPs, especially in regards to alcohol.”

“We’re not trying to encourage irresponsible behavior,” he said. “What we’re trying to encourage is that, if an individual needs help, [they] don’t feel uncomfortable calling.”

Interfraternity Council President Damien A. Brosnan ’01 supported the resolution, thanking the UA for taking action on an issue of great importance to the IFC.

“It’s good that [the issue] has come to the UA, so that it’s not just a frat boy thing,” Brosnan said.

Petition calls for prompt action

The resolution comes during the CSL’s petition campaign in support of confidential medical transport for all members of the MIT community. Seale and UA Public Relations Committee Chair Allison L. Neizmik ’02 said that the petition sponsors are aiming for 4,000 signatures from MIT community members.

The UA will be “stronger going to the administration when we have the voice of thousands,” she said. “We would like to see a concrete response from the administration, especially since we’re offering a concrete plan.”

Both Seale and Neizmik said that they would hesitate to call for medical help from the CPs if a friend was drunk, echoing student attitudes towards calling for help.

Seale said the main problem with the current system of medical transport is that students’ decisions to call for help is not “automatic.”

“Sometimes, people ask, ‘Am I sure that [medical help] is necessary?’ The margin needs to be a little bit bigger. Not ‘this person is in trouble,’ but ‘this person could be in trouble.’”

Benedict, CPA explore change

Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict said that confidential transport is a “serious issue that deserves careful thought.”

“Our students have to feel secure that if they feel a student is in need of medical attention, that they get the student medical attention,” Benedict said. “We have to make sure [our] procedures are as such to allow that.”

Last Friday, Benedict met with a group of medical practitioners, Medical Center staff, and CPs to discuss changes to the alcohol policy at MIT. He confirmed that Seale’s proposal was discussed at the meeting, but said that no decision was reached regarding the path MIT will take in changing its policy.

Benedict said that any reform “has got to result in a system whereby the health of students comes first.”

Campus Police Association President D. Kevin Hayes also supported Seale’s proposal, welcoming it as a relief for a busy staff. Hayes said that every ambulance call requires two officers, leaving a shortage of available staff to handle other complaints.

Running an ambulance has been “a sticking point for years” in negotiations between the administration and the CPA, he said.

Hayes also said that CPs would not face a pay deduction if an outside firm were to take over emergency services. Pay for EMT services was absorbed into base pay under the new CPA contract.

Outside of the MIT community, however, the proposal drew criticism. Cambridge License Commission Executive Officer Richard V. Scali criticized the resolution, calling Seale’s proposal “kind of a cover-up.” The CLC has made prevention of underage drinking a high priority, imposing increased sanctions for violations at MIT dorms and FSILGs during the past three years.

“Anything that helps the students is a positive thing, but I am worried about the fact that there would be no reporting,” Scali said. “There needs to be some accountability for the actions of students, GRTs, and housemasters.”