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MIT-EMS responds to an emergency call during the Jan. 12 blizzard. A woman unaffiliated with MIT was struck by a falling tree branch.
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If you’ve ever seen Mrs. Doubtfire, you will understand why I love the movie so much — after all, a man dressed as an endearing old lady … what’s not to love? But when I saw the movie for the 30th time, I realized that it was also instructional. In a pivotal scene, Robin Williams’s character — disguised as the congenial Mrs. Doubtfire — saves his ex-wife’s lover from choking on a horrible piece of chicken by using the Heimlich maneuver. Though “Mrs. Doubtfire” reveals his true identity in the process, the scene demonstrates the importance of knowing basic life support techniques.

Knowing how to administer basic first aid is a critical skill. Whether it requires simply knowing how to dislodge that stuck chicken bone or helping to revive someone, CPR and associated tools are incredibly relevant to general public. In the time it takes for an emergency to happen and for trained technicians to arrive on the scene, knowing how to perform CPR could be the difference between saving someone and letting him or her die.

Today, MIT-EMS is hosting MassCPR from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in La Sala de Puerto Rico (W20-202). Since 2006, the annual MassCPR event has aimed to train many members of the MIT community in CPR and AED use. The event is open to all MIT students, faculty, and staff and is run entirely by 20–30 MIT-EMS volunteers and MIT-affiliated instructors.

In contrast to other CPR courses in the area that charge up to $80 per person, MassCPR is brought to the MIT community at no charge to participants. Through Large Event Funding (LEF) and Graduate Student Council (GSC) funding, MassCPR provides free training the MIT community using the HeartSafe CPR curriculum. The CPR curriculum covers one- and two-rescuer CPR, CPR for children and infants, AED use on children and adults, and choking in infants, children, and adults.

At the end of the four-hour class, participants receive a CPR certification card that is valid for two years. In addition to MassCPR, MIT-EMS offers CPR classes at other times during the school year. However, unlike MassCPR, the other classes are not subsidized.

If learning just basic life support techniques doesn’t satisfy the medical nerd in you, consider joining MIT-EMS. As part of an on-campus ambulance service, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are trained to respond to any kind of medical emergency. MIT students generally apply to be part of MIT-EMS during the fall semester. If accepted, they take a rigorous EMT class on the service during IAP from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on most weekdays.

From a personal standpoint, I’ve seen MIT-EMS have a profound impact on the friends of mine who are in it. Though MIT-EMS is a substantial time commitment, many of the students on the service enjoy being a part of EMS because of the experience it provides and the nature of the organization. “I enjoy being a part of EMS, because it’s great to be a part of an organization where the people are professional, competent, and able to help the community around it so successfully,” said Aditya S. Kalluri ’13.

I hope neither you nor I will ever find ourselves in a Mrs. Doubtfire-esque situation. But if we do, it may be nice to make sure that our disguise and CPR techniques are surefire.