First-ever Texas community college student First Responder Organization launched
06.25.2014 | By Rob Vanya
Trained and certified Emergency Medical Technology students such as Christian Ford (left), and Harry Ford will be able to quickly respond to emergency medical incidents on campus now that San Jacinto College has launched a student-operated First Responder Organization. Photo credit: Rob Vanya, San Jacinto College marketing, public relations, and government affairs department.
San Jacinto College is the first community college in Texas to offer a student-operated First Responder Organization (FRO), in which certified students will provide on-campus emergency medical care to faculty, staff, students, and visitors.
The College recently launched the student FRO at the North Campus, which operates an associate degree Emergency Medical Technology (EMT) program. FRO volunteers will provide emergency care at the North Campus for minor injuries or medical emergencies, and provide lifesaving care to critical patients that require ambulance transport to hospitals. The FRO is organized and operated by certified emergency medical technicians enrolled in the College’s EMT program.
Operating an on-campus FRO is beneficial for both EMT students and instructors, according to Cindy Barbee, North Campus EMT program director. “Our EMT students will benefit by getting hands-on experience under the supervision of their classroom instructors in real-life medical emergency response, as well as routine medical care,” Barbee commented. “Instructors will benefit by seeing firsthand how students are performing and will be able to make timely corrections and adjustments before the student is sent out into the field to perform independently.”
FRO students will have opportunities to respond to real-life medical emergencies. From March 2012 to March 2013, there were 46 incidents at the North Campus that required medical care. Of those incidents, ambulance transport was required 11 times.
Barbee said people can be assured that the College’s FRO students will provide high-quality, professional medical care. “Any San Jacinto College EMT student involved in direct patient care activities is already certified by the State of Texas, and they are in school for certifications above that level,” she explained. “Also, the FRO students will be working under the direct supervision of faculty. Everything we do has built in redundancies so that the level of care is not just equal to what a patient would get by regular EMS providers, but is in fact much higher.”
Five universities in Texas offer student-operated FRO services – Rice University, Baylor University, St. Edwards University, the University of Texas, and Texas A&M University. San Jacinto College is the first community college in the state to provide a student-operated FRO, according to Daniel Williams, Texas Department of State Health Services first responder organization licensing specialist.
The San Jacinto College police department will provide a support role for the new student-operated FRO, helping with dispatch and loaning startup equipment. San Jacinto College Police Chief Bill Taylor was instrumental in coordinating the launch of the new FRO and predicts the service will be a valuable asset. “It will reduce response time in medical emergencies, and often during such emergencies every second counts,” Taylor commented.
Taylor formerly worked with the campus police department at Rice University, where he saw firsthand how rapid emergency response time is critical. “Rice has a student-operated FRO, and shortly after the organization launched an FRO team saved a life during an on-campus medical emergency,” he said. “I am convinced the patient would not have made it had it not been for the FRO service at Rice. A student FRO is quick because it is on site. There is no need to wait for an ambulance to arrive. Once the San Jacinto College student FRO gets up and running at the North Campus, I envision the College offering the same service at the other two campuses.”
Taylor said that the current estimated ambulance service response time to the North Campus is 5 to 7 minutes. “An on-campus FRO service can cut emergency response time in half,” he remarked. FRO volunteers will not transport patients to hospitals, but rather will provide care until local ambulances arrive for transport.
The San Jacinto College student FRO is certified as an Advanced Life Support service, meaning that certified volunteers will be authorized to provide a wide range of emergency care, including non-invasive procedures (such as oxygen therapy, bleeding control, automated external defibrillation), as well as advanced procedures (such as advanced airway management, IV therapy, and advanced medication administration).
The inaugural FRO student operations director will be Harry Ford, an advanced EMT student at San Jacinto College. EMT instructor Ali Shah, who has extensive military and civilian EMS training and experience, will serve as faculty operations director for the FRO. The FRO program director will be Cindy Barbee, who is director of the North Campus EMT program. EMT instructor Kristine Kern donated two bicycles to the FRO in memory of her late nephew Zak Longoria, an avid bicyclist who planned to take EMT classes at San Jacinto College.
San Jacinto College offers EMT courses and degree options at the North and Central campuses, as well as non-credit EMT classes through the Continuing and Professional Development division.
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About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 credit students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career and workforce preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College. For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit www.sanjac.edu, or follow us on Facebook.