FAQ

  • WHAT IS A FIRST RESPONDER?

    Great question. There is a lot of confusion among the general public as to what constitutes a “first responder”. Since 9/11, the media (and others) frequently refer to all emergency services workers as “first responders”. However, “First Responder” in the UOSERT context refers to a person who has successfully completed the Canadian Red Cross’s 40 hour “First Responder” course. The course is comparable to that completed by municipal firefighters (in fact, many departments take the Red Cross course). First Responders are trained to provide basic life support pre-hospital care prior to paramedic arrival or to treat patients with less serious illnesses and injuries and discharge them without calling for paramedic back up.
  • DO YOU WANT TO REPLACE PARAMEDICS?

    Definitely not! In Ontario, Primary Care Paramedics go to school for 2 years (including 480 hours of on-road placement and dozens more hours in emergency rooms). Advanced Care Paramedics go to school for another (nearly) 12 months. In no way is UOSERT trying to take over the provision of that level of care. However, paramedics are frequently called to “emergencies” that do not actually require a paramedic level of care or ambulance transport to hospital.

    By having First Responders attend these calls, unnecessary paramedic responses can be reduced, leaving those crews available to respond to true emergencies. In the event that paramedics are needed, First Responders can provide some life saving interventions prior to paramedic arrival and can complete much of the patient assessment before the arrival of more advanced providers. Not only does this give the paramedics a better picture of the patient’s history immediately upon their arrival on scene (and therefore decrease the time a paramedic must spend on assessment before moving onto treatment) but in trauma cases, where time is of the essence, First Responders can begin the patient packaging process (for example having them fully splinted or boarded) before paramedics arrive, in order to expedite transport.

  • WHY WOULD I WANT STUDENTS, RATHER THAN “THE PROS” LOOKING AFTER ME?

    We get asked this question a lot but the question is a bit problematic because it creates a false dichotomy between being a student and being professional. Students provide services just like this at many institutions (including Carleton) across Canada and the US. Being young people doesn’t make UOSERT’s responders any less professional than any other person who has completed a First Responder course. (As an interesting aside on young people and professionalism in emergency medical services, students at many US universities actually provide 9-1-1 dispatched ambulance services to their schools and the broader community. Curious, check out some of the teams listed on the National Collegiate EMS Foundation’s page)

    Additionally, a system that has students treating students offers some distinct advantages. For example, students being treated for suspected drug overdoses or trauma secondary to controlled substance use are much more likely to honestly and accurately disclose information about the substances they have taken to someone they regard as a non-judgemental peer than to an older adult who they perceive as filling a law enforcement function. As students, UOSERT’s responders share many experiences with their patients and are uniquely positioned to empathize with patients who feel overwhelmed by all the demands placed on university students.

  • WHY DOES UOSERT NEED LEVY-BASED FUNDING?

    Running an organization like UOSERT requires substantial funds to cover the cost of purchasing equipment and paying for training. Certifying a First Responder costs about $500 per responder and maintaining and replacing medical supplies is also very expensive.
  • UOSERT IS GOING TO GET A LOT OF MONEY IF THEY CHARGE EVERY UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT 75 CENTS; WHO WILL AUDIT YOUR FINANCES AND MAKE SURE YOU DO YOUR JOB PROPERLY?

    Since we are receiving levy-based funding from the referendum, UOSERT would be financially responsible to the SFUO (the organization responsible for collecting funds on our behalf). As voting members of the SFUO, all undergraduate students would have access to SFUO audits of UOSERT.
  • HOW CAN YOU GUARANTEE THAT UOSERT MEMBERS DON’T JUST TAKE THE FIRST RESPONDER COURSE I AM PAYING FOR, THEN LEAVE THE ORGANIZATION?

    After UOSERT members complete a rigorous selection process based on a Canadian Red Cross first aid skills marking sheet and an interview, they must sign a new member agreement and submit a cheque for the full value of the First Responder course. If the member violates the terms of that agreement (including regular attendance at training sessions and staffing of regular and special operations shifts), the member will be removed from the team and his or her cheque cashed.