Senior Adam Gitlin is not your average college student. While his friends may be seen walking around campus going to various parties and social functions, Gitlin can be seen in a white and blue SUV, on his way to a possible medical emergency.
“Basically, I have a passion to help people,” said Gitlin, a crew chief for GW’s Emergency Medical Response Group, EMeRG.
Like Gitlin, more than 60 students volunteer their time and energy to serve as emergency medical technicians for the GW community. Volunteers can work for up to 100 hours a month and do not receive pay or class credit. But students said the job experience and personal relationships they make working for EMeRG are well worth the effort.
“In many ways it’s like any other student group, where you can belong to an organization made up of members with common interests,” EMeRG coordinator Kimberly Stambler wrote in an e-mail last week.
“We do it to help people, and for the thrill of it as well,” Gitlin said. “It takes a special kind of person to do that.”
Volunteers assist patients in all types of medical situations, from trauma incidents to illness, but students often associate EMeRG with a van of flashing lights that whisks drunk students to the GW Hospital. During the beginning of the school year, the EMT group prepares for a high volume of calls as first-time students and campus returnees spend much of their nights partying. At times, this means volunteers must treat people they know.
Senior Robin Nagel, the staffing and events supervisor for EMeRG, said that while working as an EMT she has helped fellow students that she knew from around campus. She said that she did not treat any of them differently than she would a complete stranger.
“As EMTs, we take our job seriously and professionally,” Nagel wrote in an e-mail this week. “As with any patient, I explain how we are bound by patient confidentiality … the incident is often never mentioned again and we go on with our friendship as normal. It is all about trust.”
That trust ensures that by law, patients’ medical information won’t be shared with Student Judicial Services or University Police.
“We’re not trying to get students in trouble, we just want them to be healthy and safe,” Gitlin said. “It’s a really good feeling to be here for everyone else.”
EMeRG responds to calls involving everyone from students to professors and staff members. From their headquarters in the Marvin Center, volunteers are the first to respond to a scene when someone reports an emergency to UPD. EMTs will check out a patient’s vital signs and physical condition before determining if someone needs more care from paramedics or hospital doctors, Nagel said.
“EMeRG is a great way to gain experience in the field,” Nagel said.
EMeRG volunteers come from a wide range of majors at the University, but every applicant must be a GW student and have a valid driver’s license to work for the group. Volunteers must take a semester-long course and also attend a three-day EMeRG Academy for specialized training before they can take shifts as a GW EMT.
The program, which has served the GW community for almost 10 years, does offer its volunteers some benefits for their hard work and long hours.
Members have the opportunity to take advanced training courses for free and may receive a housing stipend if they reach a high rank in the program. Volunteers also have the chance to be paid for their services at events such as basketball games and concerts.
EMeRG accepts new applications at the beginning of each semester. To volunteer, e-mail email@example.com.