Health Center creates student Incidence Response Squad

Joe Volpert

Leah Siegel '14 learning how to check blood pressure from Dawn Chlipala RN, Chelsea Momany '11. Photo Credit: Brandon Fennell

The Welty Health Center created a new position that allows EMT-Basic or Red Cross First Aid certified students to work in the health center.

The position, part of the Incidence Response Squad, was just created this year. In previous years, the health center employed students to help with clerical work, yet this year they augmented the scope and qualifications of the job. The old position did not entail any basic medical work or helping security like the new position does.

“We have a position here where we have students helping us in the clinic and we have broadened that job description to a position so that students that are already EMTs–they have already completed their EMT basic or they have completed a Red Cross First Aid Certification Program–work in our clinic mostly in the afternoons and evenings,” said Claudia Ness, the director of the health center.

These students work in the health center from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, 6 p.m. to midnight on Thursday and 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

The Incidence Response Squad members help by assisting the front desk, making meal deliveries, taking students’ vital signs when necessary, pulling records and occasionally monitoring patients in the evening. The students do not have access to any medical records.

They also help security in transporting injured or inebriated students. If security needs assistance from the Incidence Response Squad, they will contact the health center and request a response team member.

“We call it the ‘Incident Response Squad,’ meaning they can respond to different incidences, but either on campus or in the health center. They are to assist health center staff with patient flow, assist with the students, provide first aid and also assist the security with their on-scene assessment,” Ness said.

The health center decided to create the position to allow medically-trained students to assist both the health center and security.

“The process of why we decided to go with more of an EMT First Aid model was so that they would be able to assist us in the evening and weekend hours monitoring patients, helping security transport patients from the health center, possibly to a clinic or health center if that is necessary,” Ness said. “They would be available to help security if there were injuries or incidences on campus that required someone that has some medical first aid background that could back up security.”

While Ness does consider the program to be a complete success thus far, she notes that the workload varies, especially given Whitman’s small size.

“The thing to remember is we are not a big city or a big university. Luckily for us, it is not every day that there is lots of excitement or lots of fun things for them to do. But I am really pleased with it at this point in time,” Ness said.

She is also excited about expanding the program in the future.

“We are very excited about the program. I would like to see the program grow,” Ness said. “It is a new program, so it is still in a transition phase.”

First-year Stephen Uramoto is one of the Incidence Response Squad members who works the Saturday evening shift. He is First Aid certified by the American Heart Association and Wilderness First Aid certified by the Wilderness Medical Associates. He often helps take students’ vital signs.

“Several times I have had inebriated patients come in and I help them to bed and then help take their initial vital signs. Then every 15 minutes after that, I’ll go and take their vitals again until they have stabilized.” Uramoto said. “I greatly enjoy working at the health center because it is a rewarding job and the nurses are very nice and helpful.”

Junior Fritz Siegert is another Incidence Response Squad member who works the Friday evening shift. He is EMT-Basic certified and CPR certified as well.

“I spend a good chunk of my time monitoring students’ vitals and making sure that they can sleep and rest in a safe and comfortable manner. Occasionally we will get a call from security or concerned students regarding an inebriated student, at which point I will drive out to where the student is, assess his/her condition and then determine whether or not it would be advisable for me to transport the student back to the health center for observation,” Siegert said.

Siegert sees this position as a good way to take advantage of his medical training.

“I love working at the health center. It’s been a great way to utilize my training as an EMT, and I truly feel like I have been able to be a helpful part of the health center team,” Siegert said.

This position complements Siegert’s career goals as well.

“I do plan to eventually attend medical school and become a physician,” Siegert said.  “I’m really thankful to the health center for giving me this opportunity, and I’ve been loving every minute of it so far!”