TEMS to resume operations under increased supervision


Tulane Emergency Medical Services is once again active on campus after a period of suspension due to student conduct violations.

Alexa Christianson, Associate News Editor Akash Desai

A familiar message covered the asphalt of McAlister Drive in pastel green and blue this Monday: “Apply to TEMS.”

Tulane Emergency Medical Services, the university’s student-run ambulance service, was placed on deferred suspension March 12, 2015 for hazing and failure to comply with university policy. A second incident in the fall led to a temporary discontinuation of the service.

According to Assistant Vice President of Campus Health Scott Tims, discussions of TEMS’ behavior started before the first incident occurred.

“About a year ago, we had a behavior agreement with the TEMS members,” Tims said. “There had been discussions prior to any actions. … Then in the spring there were incidents that led to a year-long deferred suspension, which meant that if there was another incident they would be deferred. … I think a lot of people didn’t realize they had already accepted responsibility in the spring semester.”

The deferred suspension in the spring was intended to last through March 1, 2016. During this time, TEMS was still allowed to operate, but had to comply with new rules, such as rewriting the position descriptions for members in summer 2015. A second incident in the fall violating the Code of Student Conduct caused Tulane to change the organization’s status from deferred suspension to suspended on Sept. 4.

The university investigated the behaviors of all individual TEMS members and the organization as a whole through a membership review. The process resulted the removal of members from the organization in both the spring and fall conduct violations. Others chose not to continue, Tims said.

TEMS’ recruitment this semester will follow a more structured approach than previous years. Tims said the new application process will aim for fairness and reduction of bias. While in previous years the application was entirely run by students, this year’s process will involve staff members.

“In some ways we looked at it the same way you would at a job interview,” Tims said. “There are set questions and everyone is considered. … We are also looking at if they are coming in as an EMT already.”

One of the most significant changes is how TEMS will be advised. In addition to the Student Health Center’s Medical Director, Dr. Daniel Garrett, overseeing TEMS operations, the organization recently hired a full-time emergency medical technician, Heather Scianneaux, and a third staff member to assist student members.

This change is also intended to slowly shift TEMS into a role as a vital component of the university’s campus health division, rather than a primarily student-run enterprise.

“What we’re doing is really making them a part of the health center so that they’re really seen more as medical professionals — treated that way, but held to that standard as well,” Tims said.

TEMS has also restructured its student training process so that there is less of a “bottleneck approach.” In the traditional progression of responsibility described by Tims, after being accepted as a freshman or first-year student, new volunteers underwent extensive training and would pass an examination in EMT skills. The next semester, they would ride on the ambulances as an observer, and “maybe in the fall” would receive the last pick for shifts on the ambulance as a responder. This leaves almost a year between training and the application of those skills in real life.

“One of the issues we’ve seen is that current membership was not getting enough experience,” said Tims.

Sophomore Josh Rosenbaum, one of the students who initiated the #BringBackTEMS social media campaign, said he is excited to see TEMS make its return.

“Since TEMS’ suspension, the student body, faculty, staff and community have been left without a comparable service that provided trustworthy emergency care and hospital transportation free-of-cost,” Rosenbaum said.

Though Tims is unsure of an exact date, he expects TEMS to resume service before the end of this school year. He is optimistic that the rebooted TEMS experience will offer greater hands-on experience for all TEMS members.

“We have more control over their training to make sure they’re getting the skills-based part of that so that they’re ready to take the test and then get into the ambulance and ride,” Tims said. “You don’t join TEMS to sit in a classroom and wait for a ride.”

Applications to join TEMS, which are due 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, can be completed online at http://tulane.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1YdZPkJPohfpNnm. Paper copies are available at the front desks of certain residence halls and turned into the second floor of the Student Health Center building. 

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