Senate passes motion to reinstate RPI Ambulance services
RPI’s ambulance service was shut down last semester due to COVID-19 restrictions. In response to a joint letter by a group of resident assistants and RPI ambulance members, the Senate motioned “to urge the Institute Administration to allow RPI Ambulance to go back in service.”
RPIA provides EMT services to the Troy community free of charge, without assistance from the county, due to the funding from Union’s student activity fee, according to Nathan Buckley ’21. Comparatively, an ambulance ride from the city of Troy would cost about $800, which only covers the transport and not any other medical equipment, said Yaseen Mahmoud ’22.
Allison Duong ’21, one of the RAs who drafted the letter, described one of the incidents which prompted it: “A resident had stomach pains come in waves and ended up denying Troy fire because they made the comment of ‘Do you even need it?’ when he had called 911 after he was in and out of consciousness for like half an hour. So they came to me and my only solution for them was to walk or call rideshare when in previous semesters we had RPIA to transport them.” According to Everest Orloff ’23, “it is Public Safety protocol to call 911” if a student needs to go to the hospital after calling Public Safety because “because they [Public Safety] are not medically trained.” Duong said that the RAs hope to provide “a safer alternative for students to be transported” since students are “opting to walk or take a rideshare to Samaritan hospital due to the high cost of a commercial ambulance.”
The motion establishes that only EMT personnel who have received both doses of the vaccine would be eligible to aid students, which was further confirmed by Nathan Buckley ’21. The ambulance team has also already adapted its operating guidelines to align with COVID-19 safety standards. Graduate senator Neha Keshan expressed concerns about the unknown efficacy of the vaccine. RPIA president Everest Orloff ’23 responded that “we [RPIA] would be taking the same precautions as if we were not vaccinated… and if we do go in service, it will only be for vaccinated members at this time.” They have also reduced the response team to two people: one driver and one practitioner who would be paired on rotation together to decrease the potential spread.
RPI Ambulance is working to expand its response district. Orloff said that “EMS agencies have a certification of need which describes which areas each agency can cover. Troy Fire Department covers the city of Troy, and RPI ambulance covers RPI buildings and housing. When 911 is called at off-campus housing we cannot respond to those locations, but it has been a project we’ve been working on to both add Blitman and Greek housing, as well as a plan for students in a certain mile radius that we would be able to support them as well, despite not being on campus.”
Although the Student Senate does not have the power to approve this policy change, Grand Marshal Advaith Narayan ’21 said “If this motion passes, it would still be in the hands of Dr. Lawrence, the Executive Board, the Union, any relevant administrators, and Dr. Jackson. So I envision it to be a supporting document for conversations going forward as, by way of the Student Senate, the student body has expressed that they want this service to happen.”
The motion passed 16–6–2, so Executive Director of the Health Center Dr. Leslie Lawrence, the faculty coordinator for RPI Ambulance, will bring the motion to a meeting with Assistant Dean Apgar and President Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson. Orloff commented, “Currently Dr. Lawrence wants us to be in service. He is just seeking approval from upper administration.” If approved, RPIA will work to meet NYS guidelines and return to full operating capacity.