The Eckerd College Emergency Response Team (EC-ERT) serves the Eckerd community as a student-run organization dedicated to safety on campus while fostering camaraderie among the team of responders.
Now in its ninth year, EC-ERT was founded by several students who were EMT-certified in 2011. The response team follows the EMT’s ethical code of “do no harm” and ensures students in medical situations are properly cared for.
Even if a student is not studying medicine, they can explore their interests through EC-ERT. A volunteer organization, students are trained in EMT services, allowing them to respond to calls ranging from injury, medical emergencies and trauma.
EC-ERT members are scheduled for shifts during the week, and members volunteer for weekend shifts, meaning they are scheduled 24/7 and respond to calls at any hour of the day or night.
Sarah Meyers is in her third year on EC-ERT. Meyers was looking to join a team her sophomore year at Eckerd. She had a disinterest in sports, but a fondness for medicine and helping people. Through some friends, she decided to try out for EC-ERT and has now found herself holding the position of co-training coordinator.
“As training coordinator, my favorite part is watching people grow so much. Because when people first become EMT, they’re really hesitant, you know, it’s a very scary position to step into. It’s really rewarding to train team members and watch them become more competent in their abilities to take care of a patient and have fun,” Meyers said.
In this position, Meyers is responsible for holding weekly team trainings where the team participates in reviewing skills and tactics needed for on call cases.
“My favorite part of EC-ERT is spending time with people on the team. I think we’re really close because we all care a lot about the work we’re doing. And it’s volunteer work. So we’re all doing it because we want to, not because there’s any type of reward for it,” Meyers said. “But the reward for it is the experiences you have and insight you gain while being on call and while interacting with people on the team.”
Class of 2019 alumna Gabrielle Hartman is the coordinator of EC-ERT. In the position above her, Adam Colby, the vice president of operations at Eckerd, helps connect the college with EC-ERT.
According to Hartman, the student group has received a total number of 313 calls in 2019, with 144 of them from this semester and Autumn Term, as of Oct. 7. Out of those 144, 79 of them (or 55% of EC-ERT’s calls so far) were trauma related which includes falls, broken bones and barnacle cuts.
Under the umbrella of medical calls are seizures, vomiting and general illness for which there were 65 calls. Out of those, only 11 (or 7.7% of the semester’s calls) resulted in transports.
Alcohol consumption made up 23 of EC-ERT’s calls (or 16%).
Junior Sophie Levinson assumes the role of one of four squad leaders and is a secondary responder. She is on call an average of 12 hours a week, operating mainly under overnight shifts.
According to Levinson, a saying that has been passed down since the beginning of EC-ERT is “Do good well and don’t let my team die.”
“And that’s sort of just like the promise that was passed down from EC-ERT when we started up,” Levinson said.
Squad leaders are responsible for holding team bonding events and checking in with the overall well-being of members.
“I was really looking for a community when I got into college. I had no real interest in medicine, but when I got on campus, everyone on EC-ERT seemed really, really nice and they seemed like a really cool group of people. So, I decided to try and recruit for the team my freshman year,” Levinson said. “And during recruitment, it was the only thing I thought about, it was everything I worked on during that entire period of time. And I made the team and now they’re like my family.”
Every call reported to EC-ERT is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), however, the team is a mandatory reporter for sexual assault cases, personal violence and homicidal ideation.
Unlike other collegiate emergency response teams, EC-ERT is unique as they do not directly involve campus police or campus safety with their calls unless needed.
Eckerd’s response team also holds a medical amnesty policy wherein if a student makes an emergency call, the details are not reported to Campus Safety or RAs by EC-ERT responders. Nor are students fined for EC-ERT’s services.
In the amnesty policy, it also states that while students are not exempt from conduct sanctions, callers go through a different process than those who do not. For instance, conduct would differ where Campus Safety or an RA finds a student experiencing an issue, compared to if a friend or student is the one to call for help.
As an organization on campus, they also host events in addition to responding to emergencies on campus. This includes offering discounted CPR courses once a month for Eckerd students and community members.