Dal's new first responders

Society profile: Dalhousie Campus Medical Response Team

Ashleigh Myles - January 29, 2014

Anthony Saikali (l) and Tarek Lawen (r) are looking for a few good students. (Ali Seglins photo)

It’s said that Dalhousie has a student society for everything. And if you can’t find one you like, you can simply start your own. Anthony Saikali is a case in point. The second-year neuroscience student wanted to join a medical response society similar to those at other universities like McGill and Waterloo, where they provide first aid services for campus events. But he discovered Dal didn’t have one.

He found out that St. John Ambulance has an agreement with universities in Ontario to help set up medical response societies (Waterloo’s society has been running for 16 years). So he approached Tarek Lawen, a first-year Master of Cardiovascular Physiology student and director of the Dalhousie St. John Ambulance division, with the idea of setting up a society at Dal.

“We pitched some people at St. John Ambulance the idea of having a student-run response team on campus, and they were more than enthusiastic,” says Anthony.

St. John Ambulance agreed to help by subsidizing some medical equipment needed for the new society, called the Dalhousie Medical Campus Response Team (DMCRT), as well as providing first-aid training for members.

“What better way to find volunteers or recruits than students at a university,” says Anthony. “Universities are the best way to find any type of talent.”

The DMCRT will definitely be of particular interest to Dal students who are studying in any health professions programs, especially since members will receive their St. John Ambulance training for free. But Anthony says it’s open to anyone, and hopes the experiential learning nature of the society will attract members from a variety of programs.

“You don’t need to be a medical response member, or a St. John Ambulance volunteer to be a member of the society,” he says. “Sometimes, being a science student, the information we’re getting during lectures isn’t really applicable on a day-to-day basis. Being able to get this type of education for any student, science student or not, is a fantastic thing to have and be able to offer at the university.”

While the details are still being worked out, members who receive the free training will be required to work for 10 to 16 hours each semester. They’ll be assigned to various functions on campus such as athletic events, concerts, and Orientation Week events.

“We’ll teach the people who want to volunteer with us a lot about medical first response and if they want a medical career in the future it’s a great start,” says Tarek.

At the end of August, the society will host free training sessions with St. John Ambulance instructors. Interested students can take either an eight-hour first-aid course or a 40-hour one in advanced medical first response training. Not a bad deal at all, considering they normally cost $80 to $400.

Anyone interested in joining can email the DMCRT at info.dmcrt@gmail.com. Watch for posters detailing a membership meeting during the week of February 10.


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