Allison Blaine ’17
This year’s incoming students returned home from summer break to find several changes on campus. Along with the renovation of the Vernon Social Center and the construction of the Crescent Townhouses, Trinity College announced that TCERT, the on-campus emergency response team, will no longer be in service beginning this semester.
With only a vague email to briefly explain the decisions behind what seemed like such a sudden decision, many questions were left unanswered. Some students felt concerned for their health and others were just confused. What the majority of the student body is blind to is the fact that the deterioration of TCERT was not an act of the College, but instead a result of internal issues of leadership, mistreatment and misconception.
Will Blaine ’15, TCERT Crew Chief and Community Outreach Officer, elaborated on some of the problems that led to the ultimate disbandment of the program. According to Blaine, the organization suffered from a lack of student volunteers to fill in the six officer positions in order to keep it running.
According to Blaine and fellow TCERT member, Jess Fortin ’14, the move to end TCERT services was an “internal decision” made by all members.
Fortin, a senior Crew cCief and Assistant Director for TCERT, noted that there was a lack of interest in joining the club. Many Trinity faculty and students are unaware that EMTs are unpaid and were met with much opposition from the student body. In order to become an EMT, a student must complete the 180 hour class. The EMT’s work was not compensated, and these students were, on a nightly basis, treated disrespectfully and often threatened to be sued. These factors were unappealing to the student body and reduced the likelihood that they would volunteer.
While lack of commitment was TCERT’s initial downfall, both Fortin and Blaine expressed that the biggest toll was the treatment they received by their fellow students.
“We came off to the students as drunk police. People didn’t understand that we are trained EMTs with the same professionalism as most people in an ambulance,” Blaine said.
Both Blaine and Fortin recall instances of this abuse such as blocking vehicles, throwing cans, pushing, threats to sue, stolen property, and students constantly shouting things like, “Do you know who my father is?”
Blaine and Fortin agreed that TCERT would not be rising from the ashes any time soon. Some students expressed concerns for their health and safety without TCERT members on call.
“Their lives should not be effected by this,” Fortin said, “If you’re having an emergency, call Campus Safety for an ambulance.”
“We are not the intermediary between students and the ambulance, we are the ambulance, we just don’t have a car. That was the misconception and that’s why our job was made so much harder,” Fortin said. TCERT’s role was not to personally treat students but to take them to the hospital to be treated.
When TCERT came into existence, Aetna, the ambulance company run out of Hartford Hospital, had a slow response time that took up to 20 minutes from the time of the call to the time the ambulance arrived. However, Aetna has significantly decreased their response time to just minutes. With Aetna’s improving efficiency, Trinity’s TCERT team had simply “become obsolete.”
Blaine and other members joined TCERT and went through the necessary steps to attain their EMT certification out of want to help and make a difference in one’s life, not patrol the campus and attempt to control drunk people. The Trinity College Emergency Response Team suffered from misconceptions, mistreatment and lack of leadership.
Although Trinity’s TCERT team will no longer be running around campus on the weekends, this does not mean Trinity students are in any more danger than they were in previous years. If there is an emergency, the TCERT representatives strongly urge students to call Aetna or dial Campus Safety who can do the same. If students still feel uneasy, Fortin suggests taking a CPR class (which members like Blaine still teach). Having that knowledge can make every second matter in any emergency situation.