Melanie Hoffman: EMeRG is not UPD

Have a cut? Call EMeRG. Have a fever? Call EMeRG. Sprained ankle? EMeRG treats that too. Drank too much alcohol? Fine, I suppose you can go ahead and call EMeRG.

I have noticed that many GW students, especially freshmen, have a general distaste for EMeRG because of its affiliation with alcohol-related problems. Some think that EMeRG is the organization that reports illicit behavior to Student Judicial Services, but it is actually the University Police Department that does this. In other words, this dislike of EMeRG is misdirected.

EMeRG members are volunteer undergraduate or graduate students at GW, and they don’t want to take your medical amnesty away. From overhearing conversations around campus, I know that they do want to keep the student body safe. Also, like any organization serving their peers, they want to be liked.

As their Web site states, EMeRG treats minor and major injuries, “from minor cuts, light illness and diabetic emergencies to major trauma, childbirth and cardiac arrest.” There are no references to alcohol-related emergencies, since this is not the main mission of EMeRG.

So don’t think of the organization as the party poopers on the prowl that want to ruin your Friday night and your academic record. Your academic record is usually altered by citations issued by UPD officers, who accompany EMeRG on calls.

There are actually a lot of benefits to using EMeRG for all of your emergency and non-emergency medical needs. The group’s services are completely free; there is no charge for any first-aid service or transportation to the hospital. Compared to the typical $900 price tag associated with calling an ambulance or 911, I would go with EMeRG any day. In addition, if your injury or illness requires a trip to the emergency room, EMeRG is on the VIP list, so no lines and no hassles in the ER.

If you do need to call EMeRG and want to keep it quiet, your information will be kept private. Their privacy policy says that they do not share medical reports with the University Police Department or Student Judicial Services. EMeRG will only share information with your other medical providers. The only way your medical report can be given out is if you specifically ask for it or if a court order demands it.

So don’t be scared to whip out that BlackBerry and call up EMeRG, even for alcohol-related illnesses. Since EMeRG will protect a caller’s identity, you don’t have to be “that guy” who called and ruined the night, as long as you choose not to disclose your personal information.

This process has been thought through, and in order to keep the student body safe, the administration and SJS have issued one “Get Out of Jail Free” card to every student. This freebie is better known as medical amnesty, so the first time that you call EMeRG for an alcohol-related incident, you won’t suffer any disciplinary consequences. You won’t even get punished for drinking in the first place if you are underage. EMeRG is truly out there to help you, and there is no reason to deny their assistance or shun them.

So don’t always think “Booze Police” when you see EMeRG around on campus, because they treat far more than alcoholic overdoses. They are just doing their job and keeping students safe. EMeRG should be thanked, not rejected for their efforts.

The writer is a freshman majoring in business administration.

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