For 10 years the GW Emergency Medical Response Group has been giving students medical care free of direct charge. Last week the student organization sponsored two events in celebration of its 10-year anniversary and to raise its campus profile.
On Friday in 1957 E St., an EMeRG-sponsored event discussed the effectiveness of the Department of Homeland Security. The department, which marked its third-year anniversary last week, is responsible for coordinating responses to national emergencies. Three experts came to discuss what they perceived as failures by the department during Hurricane Katrina and ways to improve.
“What concerns me the most is we’ve taken the Department of Defense and forced them to become emergency responders,” said Paul Maniscalco, the former deputy chief paramedic with the New York City Emergency Medical Service Command, who now serves on the Emergency Response Senior Advisory Committee to the Homeland Security Advisory Council.
All of the panelists, especially Maniscalco, emphasized the need to strengthen local emergency efforts.
“Katrina was such an anomaly event,” Maniscalco said. “In many cases the media sound bites changed peoples’ perceptions of what happened.”
“The local aspect can’t be overemphasized,” he added.
Panelist Gregg C. Lord, a member of the board of directors for the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, said the problem is not as easy as having the national government come into communities and oversee local emergency response.
“From a constitutional aspect, it is hard for the federal government to come in on top of the states and dictate their response,” Lord said.
The panel also focused on the future of the emergency response field. Lord said that emergency response is a young and growing field with even more room to improve.
EMeRG was also busy Thursday, grilling hamburgers and hot dogs in Kogan Plaza while handing out magnets with the EMeRG phone number to remind students to call them in case of an emergency.