St. Olaf EMTs: Who are they and what do they do?

The St. Olaf Emergency Medical Technicians (SOEMTs) is a student-run organization that is dedicated to providing students with high quality emergency medical care. Student EMTs are not employed by the college but instead work entirely on a volunteer basis. Most EMTs have plans to work in the medical or healthcare fields and see being an EMT as a great opportunity to gain patient contacts and build confidence in the field. 

In order to become an EMT, students need to have National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) certification, Basic Life Support (BLS) certification, and Emergency Medical Services Regulatory Board (EMSRB) licensure. If students have met or are in the process of meeting these requirements, they can fill out an application. Applicants also complete a mock scenario, a simulation in which they are presented with a situation and must respond accordingly, during which they are evaluated by the organization’s executive committee to ensure that they have the practical skills to provide EMT services to the student body.

When asked if there are any protocols that EMTs must follow in situations involving alcohol or substance use, David Bauer ’22 said, “When it comes to a patient using any kind of substance, all that we’re concerned about, all that we do as EMTs, is look after your health. We’re not at all involved in any kind of reprimanding process.” The only time an EMT would talk to someone outside of the duration of a call is if they had reason to believe that a patient may be a continued threat to themselves or others, in which case EMTs are mandatory reporters.

According to Bauer, who has been an EMT since his first semester at St. Olaf, there are currently 32 EMTs on staff. However, the number was as low as 17 last year, as fewer people got certified due to COVID-19. “It was a little bit of a struggle at that time because some people were taking as many as ten shifts a month,” Bauer said. “(But) we’ve never been short-staffed, in that we’ve never had to miss shifts because we didn’t have people to fill them.”

 EMTs are on call each weeknight from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and 24 hours on weekends. 

Bauer emphasized that the primary purpose of SOEMTs is to give Oles a sense of security when it comes to their health. “We do everything we can to ensure [students] safety and make sure that they feel secure and know that there is quality healthcare that will arrive in a short amount of time should they need it,” said Bauer. If a student has a concern about their health, they can call Public Safety, and both EMTs and a Public Safety officer will be dispatched to the student’s location. Bauer also noted that in severe cases, Northfield Emergency Medican Services (EMS) may also be dispatched at the same time as student EMTs. This is to ensure that students have access to the type of emergency care they need, as EMTs are not equipped to administer IVs but are well suited to handle situations where there is an immediate threat to life, limb, or eye. 

This practice of working in collaboration with other organizations on and off campus is echoed in a statement on the SOEMT website, “This service has not been established to take the place of or compete with St. Olaf Health Services, Public Safety, the Northfield Volunteer Fire/Rescue

Department, or the medical employees of the Northfield Hospital Ambulance, but rather to work in conjunction and full cooperation with all of the aforementioned entities.” Ultimately, the volunteers of SOEMT are here to serve as an extra means of support and expertise for Oles when it comes to their health.

 

lagare1@stolaf.edu

 

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