Macalester Today Spring 2011

Mac ER

MANY PEOPLE HAVE WISHED they could help in a medical emergency. Last January, 22 Macalester students did far more than just wish—they devoted $1,000 apiece and much of their winter break to an intensive three-week Emergency Medical Technician-B (for basic) course, organized by Macalester First Aid.

Macalester First Aid (MFA) is a new student organization bringing emergency medical education and service to the college. In addition to the EMT course, it offers First Aid/CPR classes and holds weekly educational meetings. MFA is led by certified EMT Ethan Forsgren ’11 (Ames, Iowa), certified CPR and first aid instructor Igor Stanceric ’12 (Zagreb, Croatia), and Davis United World College Scholar Terence Steinberg ’11(Longmont, Colo.).

EMT-Bs are trained “to stabilize people and keep them alive, not to solve their underlying medical problems,” says Forsgren. More specifically, they’re able to assess patients and help transport them as well as to give them medication, oxygen, and CPR, and to use a defibrillator.

The EMT-B course required three weeks of full-day classes, plus significant homework and practice. Lead instructor Laszlo Alberti of Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) brought in speakers such as firefighters, nurses, ER techs, and a toxicology expert. Students who completed the course must still pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam to be certified.

Once certified, they’re eligible to work for an emergency medical service, including the one MFA is building on campus. At Macalester, EMTs will act under the direction and license of a physician. Fortunately
for MFA, Johanna Moore ’03, an emergency medicine doctor at Hennepin County Medical Center, has agreed to become their medical director, available by phone to advise and authorize appropriate
care. “I was so impressed by Ethan and the vision the group had for Macalester First Aid that I was more than happy to offer my help,” says Moore. This kind of training, she adds, “could potentially save a life.”

Why spend such a big chunk of winter vacation studying emergency medicine? Rachel Gunsalus ’13 (Los Gatos, Calif.) did it because she believes it could help her future work in international medicine. A sociology major with a concentration in community and global health, Gunsalus is already putting her new knowledge to work as a volunteer in the emergency department of St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul.

As this issue went to press, Forsgren and Steinberg were working on a plan to start an EMT class in Caracas, Venezuela. They will design a model curriculum for the region.