TEMS suspended, future uncertain

Emma Discher, Senior Staff Reporter

Tulane Emergency Medical Services discontinued service on Sept. 4 as Student Affairs and Student Conduct administrators began an ongoing investigation and review of the organization’s operations.

The recent allegations of a student code of conduct violation were not the first conduct issues for the organization according to Vice President of Student Affairs J. Davidson “Dusty” Porter.

“As the organization entered into this year [TEMS was] already in a period of deferred suspension which meant that, in essence, they were told to make really good decisions because of [their] violations that [they] were found responsible for,” Porter said. “Then, unfortunately, another incident occurred that appears to have violated the code of conduct. I can’t say much about it because of course they’re having to move through a fact-finding period as well as a decision but that’s what caused Tulane to go ahead and pull TEMS out of service in the meantime.” 

It has not been decided if TEMS is out of service for good or only for the time being. Student Conduct will complete an investigation into the allegations before deciding on the terms.

“I think when we get to that stage we can look and see are the options full-fledged the way we had it?” Porter said. “Are the options that TEMS doesn’t exist at all? Is the option that maybe TEMS comes back with potentially a more reduced scope? … I can imagine there might be a decision to have a smaller scope in the beginning and try for a year or two to say maybe it’s not 24/7. Maybe it’s during certain hours. Maybe it’s not all issues. Maybe it’s certain issues. I don’t know yet. I think we’re going to have to get into it once we know more.”

For the first weekend of the suspension, Tulane paid for Acadian Ambulance Service to partner with the university to meet students’ medical needs between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. on the weekend. This has now changed as Porter discovered that this was against EMT protocol in Orleans Parish.

“We found out this week from the city [that] … New Orleans Emergency Medical Services has jurisdiction to answer 911 calls [in Orleans Parish],” Porter said. “So you can’t just say you’re going to have a private ambulance because it’s the law that they’re the first responders. The only reason that TEMS was able to operate is because Tulane had an agreement with the city [for] TEMS to do that.”

Now students must call either TUPD or 911 for emergency medical services. Students will have to pay any transport and medical fees that come with use of NOEMS. The charge depends on the services rendered.

Tulane still recognizes a level of medical amnesty, though it now falls under the Responsible Action Protocol in the updated Alcohol Policy.

“We don’t want anyone to not call for a friend because of perceptions [that they are] going to get in trouble,” Porter said. “In fact we’re even changing the name of medical amnesty to the Responsible Action Protocol. Whether that is New Orleans EMS versus TEMS, it doesn’t make a difference. We will still get the same information we’ve always gotten. … It also doesn’t mean that the university doesn’t have an obligation to be working with each students around individual needs and that’s why we’re trying to change it [from] amnesty to Responsible Action Protocol.”