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Interview: Radford EMS Students Volunteer to Make a Change on Campus

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By Ida Domingo | idomaingo1@radford.edu

Among the many important services provided by Radford University, RU-EMS (Emergency Medical Services) is one with a long history of college students wanting to make a change in their community.

The Tartan had a conversation with Troy McAdams, FF/EMT-I (Firefighter Emergency Medical Technician) and Captain of RU-EMS.

(The Tartan) Q: How did you guys get started?

(McAdams) A: “Radford University EMS was founded by nursing students who wanted to do something to help out the campus and surrounding community. These students answered calls for help on foot by listening to personally acquired scanners and radios. With the help of Radford Community Hospital EMS and the university, Radford University EMS (RU-EMS) was born.”

“RU EMS, an accredited and certified EMS agency by the Virginia Office of EMS – an extension of the Virginia Department of Health – was officially founded in 1988. With RU EMS initially responding to calls on foot, Donald Dedmon, himself, decided to help the agency by donating his personal EZ-Go golf cart.”

“Ten years later, RU-EMS upgraded to a 1998 Ford Expedition, licensed as an emergency first response vehicle. RU-EMS upgraded again to their current response vehicle in 2011 with the purchase of a Chevy Tahoe, of which was acquired by the Virginia Office of EMS with an RSAF 80/20 grant.”

“It may sound trivial using the purchases of vehicles to describe our history, but these moments have been pivotal points in our strides towards improving patient care. The better our vehicle is, the faster we can respond, and the more equipment we can carry with us to prepare for those “worst case scenario” calls.”

Q: What is an EMT and how is this different from a paramedic?

A: “EMTs and paramedics provide two different levels of emergency medical services. EMTs render basic life support with basic lifesaving procedures such as CPR, C-spine stabilization, wound packing, and splinting and drug administration such as naloxone, albuterol, and oxygen.”

“Similarly, paramedics focus on airway, breathing, and circulation-based treatments, but they are advanced life support providers that render advanced medical and traumatic care with interventional procedures, techniques and drug administration.”

Q: What type of training do RU-EMS members have?

A: “Our [main] concern as an agency is to develop highly competent providers to offer [the] community the best care possible. RU-EMS providers come from all backgrounds. Some of our members have never been involved with emergency services, while others are carrying on their family legacy.”

“This being said, all of our members go through the same qualification training in order to meet our high standard of care.”

Q: Do members get paid?

A: “All of Radford University EMS personnel are volunteers with a tremendous amount of education and training obtained on their own time and dollar. We require our members to volunteer a minimum of 100 hours a month, so it is evident that they are truly passionate about helping our community.”

Q: Is there a fee to be treated by RU-EMS?

A: “All care and equipment rendered by RU EMS personnel on the scene of an emergency is free of charge. Radford University allows an annual budget to maintain the agency.”

Q: How can students join?

A: “Students may join RU-EMS by submitting an application at any point in the year on our RU involved page. RU-EMS administration reviews and responds to applications once per semester. The process consists of submission of an application, an interview, and a federal background check.”

“After successfully completing this process, applicants may be accepted as probationary members – this is where they start their extensive training to become a competent medical care provider.”

Q: What has RU-EMS done for the Radford Community that will have a lasting impact on the university?

A: “Impacting the Radford University community is at the forefront of the RU-EMS mission. For the past 30 years we have provided the university and surrounding areas with free medical care, taught discount CPR classes, hosted Hands-Only CPR events, provided volunteer experiences for future medical providers, assisted in teaching campus EMT classes, provided standby services for our campus sports teams, and so much more.”

“We do all of these activities to better our campus and to make sure our fellow students can learn more about the ever-changing medical world!”

RU-EMS is also currently in the application process for the 2019 grant cycle.

“Over the summer of 2018, RU-EMS personnel attended a specific mass casualty incident (MCI) training to better prepare for the instance of an active shooter. RU-EMS has a Mass Casualty Plan, MCI equipment, and MCI training so that our members can be knowledgeable about not only day-to-day medical skills but also the scenarios we hope will never happen.”

“RU-EMS personnel also attend an array of other training events throughout the year. Some of these events consist of Virginia Rescue College in Blacksburg, VA Association of Volunteer Rescue Squads’ Conference in Virginia Beach, and we send select members to training events at the National Collegiate EMS Foundation Conference.”

Q: What does the future of EMS look like?

A: “The future of not only RU-EMS but also EMS all across the nation is actively evolving to better support a changing society and render the most competent medical and rescue care possible. We see ourselves expanding our impact by becoming more involved in our campus and city community. We aspire to build upon these relationships to provide the best patient and people care possible.”

Q: What more would you like for RU students to know?

A: “For the RU student, the understanding that although RU-EMS personnel are students, we are certified and highly trained medical providers that wish to serve our Radford University Campus in the best way possible.”

“We are always looking for ways to become more involved in our community. If you have any interest in joining, taking a CPR class, or learning more about emergency medicine in general, please reach out to us on RU Involved or at our email, radforduniversityems@radford.edu.”

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