Volume 96, Issue 15
Tuesday, September 24, 2002

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SERT brings safety, without minty flavour

By Paolo Zinatelli
Gazette Staff

Not a lot may be known about them, but the Student Emergency Response Team is usually the first on site for any on-campus emergency.

"We are a volunteer organization that works 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the academic year," said Julie Andrassy, executive director of SERT.

There are 50 to 55 volunteers currently on staff, with three people on call at all times, Andrassy said.

The University Police Department notifies SERT of any campus emergency, she said.

"SERT has been recognized by the Ministry of Health as a first response participant," said Tom Macfarlane, medical director of SERT.

SERT is usually the first group of respondents on the scene of campus emergencies, ahead of ambulance and the fire department, explained Macfarlane.

For example, SERT was the first respondents on the scene of an accident in which a biker drove into a car at the intersection of Middlesex and Perth Drives on Sept. 13.

"Anyone who makes this commitment to SERT is commiting an average of 20 volunteer hours a week," Macfarlane said.

The application process for volunteers begins in September, Andrassy said. Candidates must be qualified in Standard First Aid and pass a SFA test, she said, adding the top scorers are then called in for an interview.

After the interviews, there are practical tests of three different emergency situations, Andrassy explained, adding candidates are then evaluated on their first aid skills.

Once the recruits pass the emergency situations test, they are trained in a First Responder Course, she said.

There are 43 hours of training involved, and recruits are trained in skills like airway management, bandaging, cardiac resuscitation and casualty assessment, she said.

"The University Emergency Response Team over the summer puts on mock situations on campus," said Bob Paskewich, SERT's external communications director. SERT volunteers participate as part of their training, he added.

"We will step down to the paramedics, as they do have higher training than we do," Andrassy said, explaining that SERT members often work together with the paramedics.


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