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An Ambulance: A Worthwhile Investment

The Student Emergency Medical Services (SEMS) program performs an invaluable service to the MIT community. The Tech firmly believes that the Institute should support the program and grant its recent request for additional funding so that SEMS can continue providing its services.

SEMS has made a request for an additional $200,000 of funding for a new ambulance and a heated parking space for the ambulance. The current ambulance is over ten years old and will fail to meet state standards when its certification expires in October. A failure by MIT to obtain a new ambulance for SEMS would effectively sound the program’s death knell. Additionally, the current bay provided in the nuclear reactor complex is sorely inadequate. SEMS has proposed an ambulance bay near MIT Medical. This site would allow SEMS to provide faster service when emergencies occur.

It is clear that MIT’s previous arrangement is unacceptable. The private ambulance service MIT used before the inception of SEMS was extremely expensive; a single meical shutle between MIT Medical and MGH cost an estimated $400. The generous service of volunteers in the SEMS program significantly reduces overhead costs while providing a level of service equivalent to that of a professional operation. Private ambulance service cost MIT about $95,000 per year; SEMS only needs funding to replenish medical supplies and maintain its equipment.

Granted, MIT needs assurance that SEMS will be a lasting program that will continue to provide returns many years into the future if the Institute is to make a substantial commitment to the program. SEMS has demonstrated this long-term viability. Interest in the SEMS program has been high, and the current volunteers have proven to be extremely capable. In less than a year of service, the current staff of 40 have shown their ability. The graduation of the third class of 32 EMT trainees will further bolster the staff and allow SEMS to continue towards its goal of providing around-the-clock service. The increase in class size at SEMS’ training sessions suggests that the SEMS program will continue to grow as long as MIT provides it with sufficient support.

SEMS has also displayed its positive impact beyond its role in emergency response. Student EMTs that are part of the SEMS program supplement the athletic department’s trainers by attending sporting events to provide services in case of an injury. The creation of a broad base of students trained in emergency medical response is a worthwhile goal in and of itself. Patients who are not breathing can become brain-dead within six minutes. A trained EMT nearby could provide immediate care until an ambulance arrives.

The SEMS program is the only logical choice for MIT. It provides services equivalent to a professional ambulance service without the price tag. Many of MIT’s peer institutions have successful, effective student EMS programs; with Institute support, MIT’s SEMS can and will be just as successful.