EMeRG not to blame
As a member of the Emergency Medical Response Group, but more importantly a student, I am deeply concerned about the level of research that went into Tim Kaldas’ column in the Sept. 13 edition entitled “Change the Policy (p. 4).” Mr. Kaldas made a blatantly false statement when he said that “Under the current policy, if a student calls EMeRG because they are heavily intoxicated and feel they need medical attention, EMeRG will refer the student’s case to Student Judicial Services.” There are several errors in this statement. First, when dealing with a possible intoxication-related call, the University Police Department is always the agency that makes the decision whether or not to call EMeRG to a scene. Students call a University Police dispatch system as opposed to a direct EMeRG line. Secondly, EMeRG never has contact with Student Judicial Services. In fact, all medical records kept by EMeRG are confidential, and are not shown to anyone, including the University Police Department and Student Judicial Services. They are guarded by a federal regulation called HIPAA, in which our paper records can only be released to the patient (if a waiver is signed), or in response to a court ordered subpoena (this excludes SJS). Therefore, anything told to an EMeRG member on scene is considered confidential, with the exception of certain illegal matter such as suicidal or homicidal ideation. If a student is referred to Student Judicial Services, it is by the UPD and this is because they have violated the Student Code of Conduct that each student is required to sign upon acceptance to the University.
Because of your careless publishing, it is quite possible that students will think twice before asking for the medical assistance your columnist advocates. EMeRG’s sole responsibility is towards all student health, safety, and well-being. When EMeRG is called on a scene, it is to be sure that the patient is medically stable, and all the records we keep are confidential. Before attacking a policy and groups associated with it, your reporters should feel obligated to actually research what they write about. This misinformation could have been easily corrected if only someone on your staff had contacted EMeRG, SJS, or the University Police Department.
The intention to change any policy that one feels is unfair is an admirable one, but first be sure to target those actually responsible rather than hurting a volunteer organization whose only intention is to come to the aid of their patients and the GW Community.
-Ashley Boeri, Public Relations Supervisor, Emergency Medical Response Group