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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Real-world experience for BEMCo student EMTs

Published: December 7, 2007
Section: Features

1207073.jpgSo, we all know when there’s an emergency who to call- BEMCo. I’m sure a lot of us even have their number stored in our cell phones. We’ve seen them driving around campus in the BEMCo vehicles and toting medical bags in their BEMCo gear, but who are the students behind the BEMCo program? Why do students become involved with BEMCo, and what exactly do they do? What have they been up to this semester and what do they have going on in the near future? Let’s find out.

This spring, BEMCo will be turning twenty five, and as such their Executive Board decided to host a birthday party similar to the one from five years ago when they turned twenty. General members of the corps will volunteer with different committees for the Gala, assisting with various aspects such as food, invitations, decorations, an ad book, and entertainment committees. BEMCo Secretary Dan Litwok, ’10, and BEMCo Secondary Bryan Deutsh,’08, are the primary planners behind the whole event.

The Gala, which BEMCo has been planning since late September of this year, will take place on March 15, 2008. Expected to attend the event are current and past BEMCo members, administrators, and members of the Brandeis staff. The event will feature a dinner, speakers, and media presentations which will highlight BEMCo’s achievements.

In hosting the gala, members of BEMCo would like to grant recognition and appreciation to BEMCo’s service to Brandeis and show alumni the progress they’ve made over the years. As Litwok and BEMCo Director and Primary Leah Honor, ’08, described in an e-mail to The Hoot, the Gala is “an opportunity for us to bring back our alumni and celebrate 25 years of service to Brandeis.”

BEMCo Primary Jon Pearlson, ’08, and Honor both became involved with BEMCo second semester of their freshman year. After having taken the EMT course offered on campus, the two started off taking shifts as BEMCo tertiaries.

Honor described how she became involved with BEMCo because she was “interested in EMS and it seemed like a fun way to get involved on campus.”

Dan Litwok, ’10, is BEMCo’s Secretary, Primary and Co-coordinator of the gala. Litwok, too, became involved with BEMCo his second semester of freshman year. Before his tenure at Brandeis began, Litwok was an EMT in New Jersey and spent first semester freshman year awaiting certification to reciprocate.

Litwok explained his motivations for becoming involved with BEMCo. “I started volunteering as an EMT at home when I was 16. When I got to Brandeis I wanted to continue to volunteer my time because I love working as an EMT, and BEMCo was a great opportunity to get involved.”

To become involved with BEMCo, students must be CPR certified, be a MA Certified EMT, and must also pass a map test about the Brandeis campus. Anyone else has the opportunity to join BEMCo on Observer status, which allows them to accompany members on calls and watch the proceedings. Currently, BEMCo hosts about eighty active members.

So, what’s a typical day on the job for BEMCo members? A typical BEMCo shift runs 24 hours and lasts from 5:00 PM until 5:00 PM the next day. At any given time, there are four people on call-a tertiary, secondary, primary, and a supervisor. Upon joining BEMCo, members start off as a tertiary. A tertiary is promoted to secondary upon completing 5 shifts and being on 5 calls. After being a secondary for one semester and gaining experience off campus, a secondary can become a primary. In addition, there are two supervisors above the primary members each year. The role of a primary includes driving the BEMCo vehicle while on call. Supervisors drive the BEMCo Supervisor vehicle while on call.

All members of BEMCo have the same certification, regardless of their official rankings. The only thing separating the ranks is the individual’s level of experience. While on-duty, BEMCo members are equipped with a first aid kit, pager, and radio. On call members still attend classes while on duty, but must be available to take a call at any time.

While BEMCo features no mandatory weekly requirements, members must take at least one shift per semester in order to remain an active BEMCo member. There are monthly shift assignments, the number of shifts anyone gets being based on a member’s rank.

The week of November 5-11, 2007, BEMCo hosted National Collegiate EMS week. Through this week, BEMCo hoped to raise more awareness about BEMCo within the Brandeis community. In addition, they wanted to attract new members and inform the community about exactly what it is they do.

Events of the week included lessons about CPR, long-boarding, and blood pressure. Members of BEMCo also handed out first aid kits and information sheets detailing how to control bleeding and how to care for intoxicated patients. Members of BEMCo generally feel that the week was a “great success.”

Describing her experience as a BEMCo member, Honor said “it is a great opportunity to see a different side of campus life, and it is a great feeling to help people.”

Litwok told of how “there is a certain level of excitement that comes with dealing with other people’s emergencies. It is a huge adrenaline rush and it is great to be able to help out when people [are] in trouble.”

Both Litwok and Honor would recommend the experience to other Brandeis students, citing the fact that being a BEMCo member is a “big commitment,” but more importantly is “very rewarding.”

On a closing note, members of BEMCo requested it be known that their job entails much more than treating intoxicated students.