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SEMS Increases Hours, Seeking Viability

By Lauren E. LeBon


The Student Emergency Medical Services, or SEMS, now offers emergency medical transport services seven days a week.

The hours were extended in order to increase call volume and prove to MIT administrators that the service is “financially viable,” said SEMS President Michael R. Folkert G.

Previously, student EMTs were on call from 6 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Monday. The service now runs from 6 p.m. to midnight on weekdays, in addition to the weekend hours.

EMS tries to prove worth

SEMS hopes that by expanding their hours of service, more calls will come in. SEMS is making an effort to increase the number of calls to demonstrate that the transport program is not a stagnant one.

“We just want to pick up more calls so we can eventually move on to cover MIT more often,” said Director of Ambulance Operations Nicolas A. Wyhs ‘05.

Last semester, under the old schedule, the SEMS transported about 45 patients to MIT Medical, said Samuel A. Schweighart G, chief of MIT Ambulance and Residential Service.

“It’s not that anyone specifically asked” for these numbers, said SEMS Personnel Manager Peter S. Jaglom. “We’re trying to make as strong a case as possible when we present a budgetary proposal to the administration.”

Eventually, the hope is for EMS to become a 24-hour service, Schweighart said, requiring about 50 experienced EMTs.

This means recruiting more student EMTs, which “shouldn’t be a problem,” given strong numbers from past years, Jaglom said. Giving these trainees’ hands-on experience, however, may prove to be more difficult.

When someone on campus dials 100, the call is forwarded to the student EMS or, during off-times, to an independent ambulance company. Independent ambulance companies bill MIT between $200 and $550 per visit, Wyhs said.

“There’s ups and downs,” Wyhs said, in both the student service and the independent service. “A professional [company] runs itself, while the student service has continued costs.”

“Per call it’d probably come out cheaper with us,” Wyhs said, “but there may be other factors that play into it that we don’t see.”

SEMS’s most pressing need is for a new ambulance. The ambulance in use today is about ten years old, Jaglom said, and is due for a replacement

SEMS formed in 2002

SEMS educates MIT students in providing emergency medical care. Students, working with a medical professional, are trained to stabilize a victim until professional care arrives. All emergency medical technicians, or EMTs, are volunteers. The service is confidential.

The group was formed in summer 2002 at the request of many student groups, including the Undergraduate Association and the Interfraternity Council, who wanted confidential medical transport operated by students rather than by the MIT Police.

Specifically, students felt that fellow students would be more willing to call for an ambulance when underage drinking was involved if the service was confidential and run by fellow students.

Today, 63 undergraduate and graduate students are certified EMTs.

“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,” said Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict in 2000. “We have to make sure [our] procedures are as such to allow that.”