CMU EMS more efficient with new car

The new Ford EMS car allows CMU EMS to arrive at a scene of an emergency quickly and efficiently.  (credit: Jonathan Carreon/Contributing Editor) The new Ford EMS car allows CMU EMS to arrive at a scene of an emergency quickly and efficiently. (credit: Jonathan Carreon/Contributing Editor)

On Jan. 10, Carnegie Mellon Emergency Medical Services (CMU EMS), after ten years of tossing the idea back and forth, was able to obtain their very own CMU EMS car. Former logistics director and current supervisor Evan Finkelstein said that the car allows them to transport equipment to any point on campus, making arriving at a call much more efficient.

Current logistics director and supervisor Blaise Loughman said, “The idea’s been around for ten years, but it started to make headway last year.”

Former operations director and alumnus Tim Bach and Finklestein were the main proponents of acquiring the car. They wrote an in-depth proposal to University Health Services (UHS) in which they compared the time that they could arrive at a scene of an emergency with and without a car. Additionally, they compared themselves to peer institutions such as Duke University and Columbia University, which both have cars and ambulances as part of their EMS programs.

After successfully convincing UHS that a CMU EMS car would be a beneficial investment, Bach and Finkelstein were able to make their plans a reality. Though technically owned by UHS, the car is authorized to be driven by only CMU EMS crew chiefs, who have to be specifically licensed to drive such vehicles. The CMU EMS Ford car is equipped with backboards, medical equipment, and audio devices that connect to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire, University Police, and CMU EMS’s home base in Doherty Apartments.

The next step for CMU EMS, according to Loughman, is to acquire a golf cart so that they can more efficiently transport equipment within the campus.

CMU EMS is one of the most recognizable organizations on campus, with their 24/7 on-call staffing and direct support of Pittsburgh Emergency Medical Services and University Police. With its 25 current members, CMU EMS is required to be on watch 24/7, meaning that most members must work multiple shifts each week. The members comprise a wide variety of people, such as senior computer science major, executive director, and medical member Jeff Cooper, who will work at Google when he graduates in the spring. When asked why he became part of CMU EMS, he said that he “found a group of people that were also passionate about something big, like saving lives. It’s high stress, but it’s so rewarding.”

In 2011, CMU EMS saved a faculty member from cardiac arrest.

“When we see the faculty member, and she sees us in our uniform, she feels very thankful to us. It’s a great feeling,” Cooper said.

The achievements of CMU EMS have received acclaim from various medical institutions in the area that vouched for CMU EMS’s incredible response time — in many cases, if CMU EMS did not arrive as quickly as they did, the injured person may have died. Many of the events that CMU EMS respond to on a daily basis are generally not high emergency, but include injuries, intoxication, faintness, and allergy responses.

CMU EMS typically receives many more calls during the weekend. During Spring Carnival, CMU EMS doubles and sometimes even triples the staff that is available on-call, with different groups designated on midway, campus, and other areas relative to campus where CMU students may hang out during Carnival.

Recently, CMU EMS has been struggling with funding shortages.

Loughman responded to a case in which he needed an EpiPen.

He used the pen to treat life-threatening allergic reactions, that cost approximately $60, paid for by himself.

Nonetheless, according to Loughman, adequate funding for CMU EMS is never a problem when lives can be saved and when people stay hungry to serve their campus in the biggest way they can.