Lions’ EMS announces shutdown

A photo of an EMS ambulance from Spartanburg (Google Images)

This semester will be Lions’ Emergency Medical Service’s (EMS) last, according to Michael Delatore, Logistics Captain and senior criminology major. The shutdown of the volunteer-based organization was announced to its members Wednesday March 31, as a result of the resignation of Holly Heller, current adviser to Lions’ EMS.

According to Heller, her resignation is a result of recent changes and requirements for the organization’s leadership. Lions’ EMS sought funding from the College last year, and is no longer funded by the Student Finance Board (SFB) as a result. This change requires the organization to be overseen by a supervisor, rather than an adviser. The responsibilities of a supervisor transcend the role of adviser, she said, requiring that the individual be an EMT.

“The role of supervisor  of Lions’ EMS is a much more in depth role and time commitment,” Heller said in an e-mail interview. “Unfortunately I can not take on those increased responsibilities. They go beyond my current job description, scope of practice and expertise.”

Heller said the current state of the College’s budget has made finding a qualified replacement for the position of supervisor difficult. Without supervision, the organization can’t continue to provide services on campus, she said. Efforts to prevent the shutdown are currently in progress, including a proposal and letter from Lions’ EMS submitted to the Vice President of Student Affairs. At press time, the ultimate decision has yet to be announced.

With 82 members, 20 to 25 of whom are active responders, according to Heller, many members are concerned with the effects the cancellation of services will have on the campus.

“I think students will be adversely affected,” Delatore said. “We’re on campus, we’re able to respond to calls quicker.”

Campus medical emergencies will now fall solely to local EMS agencies and Campus Police, whereas Lions’ EMS provided medical assessment, when in service, until local agencies arrived. Heller said students who are involved in Lions’ EMS are encouraged to join local agencies, such as the Pennington Road EMS squad.

The group was formed on Sept. 1, 1998, as a quick response team on campus to supplement care provided by local EMS agencies, Heller said. Lions’ EMS provided opportunity for medical experience in pre-hospital emergency care to the campus as a well as standby service at sports events, concerts and other scheduled events, according to its Web site. The organization offered 9-1-1 response from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Monday through Thursday and from 8 p.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Monday. During daytime hours, semester breaks and holidays, EMS care isn’t provided by Lions’ EMS.

According to an individual who has been involved with the organization for three years and is familiar with the situation, who asked to remain anonymous, response time will suffer with the termination of Lions’ EMS.

“Response times will be significantly longer than before,” he said. “Students calling for an ambulance should expect to wait as much as 15 minutes rather than the three to four they are accustomed to with Lions’ EMS.”

Katie Brenzel can be reached at brenzel2@tcnj.edu.