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Friday, September 22, 2023


UH Cougar Medics seek approval for student-run EMS service

Courtesy UH Cougar Medics

As many students already know, navigating UH’s sprawling campus can be quite the endeavor. A reflection of the city it calls home, the University is a chaotic pastiche of Houston’s tangled freeway system.

This layout presents challenges for students and faculty alike, but most importantly it makes it difficult for emergency responders to reach people in need, says Meenakshi Karthik, a junior studying nutrition and vice president of internal affairs for UH Cougar Medics.

“Around UH, the Houston fire department has one of the longer response times in the city,” said Karthik. “It can be difficult for emergency responders to reach students sometimes. Our campus isn’t laid out in a way that’s very conducive to ambulances and fire trucks.”

That’s why Meenakshi, along with a group of several other students, are seeking to form a student-run EMS service on campus.

The organization, dubbed UH Cougar Medics, would serve to bridge the gap between an injury or accident occurring, and emergency personnel arriving on the scene. Aside from tending to life-threatening injuries, such as arterial bleeding, the organization’s main goal is to provide a sort of guide for emergency personnel to a student’s location.

“A lot of times what happens is, after an incident occurs, UHPD will be dispatched to the scene,” Karthik said. “Once they arrive and confirm that someone is in need of medical help, they usually just call EMS/HFD. This wastes valuable time that could be used to save someone’s life.”

In order to provide this potentially life-saving service on campus, the org will need two things: administrative approval and EMS certifications for all their members, both of which are easier said than done, says biochemistry senior and external affairs vice president Nga Thai.

“We’re still working on getting all of our current members EMS certified,” said Thai. “It can be difficult to manage while also being a student. It’s about two months of training including both class room material as well as hands-on learning in a clinical setting.”

Aside from the time investment, there’s also the cost. With prices for EMS certification being around $1,500, many students are turned off by the price alone. This is part of the reason the organization is seeking recognition from the University, as funding could potentially eliminate, or at least off set the financial barrier to entry.

There are other concerns, as the administration is a little wary of sending students to the scene of a potentially life-threatening injury, Thai said.

“We’re definitely dealing with a little uncertainty on behalf of UH officials,” Thai said. “We’re working on showing them the benefits of having a student-run EMS service.”

One of the biggest benefits, Thai said, is that the organization would provide the service entirely free of charge to UH students. Thai added that with prices as high as $1,000 and added fees for mileage, an ambulance ride could push the shoe-string budget of a student to the breaking point.

UH Cougar Medics wouldn’t be the first student-run EMS service either. With similar organizations operating on both the UT Dallas and Rice University campuses, there’s no reason UH can’t provide a similar service to its students, Thai said.

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