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What I wish I knew: don’t be afraid to call BEMCo

Procrastination did not even begin to encapsulate how much I was putting off writing my essay Friday night. I was not ready for my night to end because once it did, my paper awaited. Nevertheless, my night did come to a close and as I sat down to start my essay, my phone began to vibrate in angst. I answered the call to find my friend’s frantic voice on the other line; her roommate, one of my friends, was falling in and out of consciousness. Grabbing a Gatorade, I rushed downstairs to help.

Once I barged through the door, I was unexpectedly greeted by one of the scariest images I have ever seen. My vibrantly energetic, joyous friend was replaced by a pale, slightly shaking hollow person. Unable to hold a conversation, head bobbing up and down from the vomit-filled trash bag in her lap and eyes rolling back to the depths of her skull, she was not doing well.

I rushed through the door and started to pour the Gatorade into a cup of water. She was barely able to hold the cup, let alone drink without gagging. I suggested we call Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps (BEMCo), but her roommate claimed she had everything under control.

We did not have anything under control. Her legs were shaking furiously, her eyes could not stay open and she was continually vomiting. Her neighbors came over and after a slight deliberation, we decided it would be safer to call BEMCo than handle this sensitive situation on our own.

I am extremely thankful we did.

BEMCo is a student volunteer Emergency Medical Service (EMS) that provides fast and efficient medical care to the Brandeis campus. Aside from being Massachusetts-certified EMTs, these students are trained professionals in CPR, AED usage and basic first aid. They are a 24-hour volunteer service and far more qualified than any of my friends or myself to handle the medical disaster that laid before us.

With Medical Amnesty, which Brandeis provides, none of the parties involved will be in trouble for how they got into the situation that BEMCo was called for.

This clearly demonstrates that Brandeis is truly looking out for the best interests of their students rather than trying to punish them. If BEMCo is called for drug or alcohol-related incidents, the student who needed BEMCo will receive a notification in the following days regarding a counseling session. BEMCo EMTs are covered under Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which is a federal regulation that prohibits BEMCo from sharing information about the call with anyone not directly involved with patient care.

Therefore, call!

If the worst result of calling is a counseling session, it is more than worth it to save a life. Do not hesitate; it is within those few minutes of deciding that could decide the health of the person you’re calling for.

Around two in the morning, BEMCo stormed into the dorm room and got right to work. Friendly, helpful and highly professional, BEMCo asked all the right questions and were, surprisingly, an absolute pleasure to work with. However, this situation took a negative turn when my friend was strapped into a wheelchair and was wheeled out into the brisk night air, illuminated by ambulance lights.

If BEMCo needs to call for a transporting ambulance service, the BEMCo crew calls 911. When the transport service arrives at the scene, BEMCo will transfer care to the transport service. Any decisions made after this point is done so by the transport service.

Claiming to be sober and much better than before, my friends argued against going to the hospital in fear of her parents finding out. The Cataldo Ambulance EMT asked her if she was feeling better and if she wanted to go to the hospital. She, of course, said yes and that she did not want to go. He then called the Emergency Room Physician who told him that my friend did not have to go if she did not want to.

There are multiple issues with this situation. Firstly, my friend was in no state to be making decisions for herself. She was severely ill, not sober, pumped with fear of her parents knowing and adrenaline from the entire situation. Her life should not have been left in her hands, if the paramedics were called, they were called for a reason.

Although it is understood that BEMCo and other EMTs cannot legally make decisions for individuals, there should be a point in which the decision should not be up to the individual.

The doctor that the man called did not personally see my friend’s current state. The man may have relayed a few of her test results to the doctor, yet how many tests could they have really done on the sidewalk? From what I saw, a glucose test was the only test conducted. He let her go back to her dorm and told her if he saw her again that evening he would not be happy.

I guess the man was unhappy that evening. About 30 minutes later, my friend started to vomit blood. BEMCo was called for the second time that evening and my friend was rushed to the hospital.

The inaction by the adult in charge was appalling. He put my friend’s life at further risk, he saw the condition she was in and instead of doing what was best for her health, he did what she thought was best for her intoxicated self.

This horror story is not to deter you from using BEMCo or Brandeis’ other health services. It is to encourage you to call and put your health first. If the paramedics come and say you are not in a well state of being, do not fight them, do not think about the punishments, do not think about your parents—think about your health. After all, none those thoughts will matter if you do not wake up in the morning.

Be proactive, be safe and do not hesitate to call!

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