Safety and Wellness First

Diner and Alsharif have both served on ACEMS since their first year. Diner is currently on the Board of Directors, and both are ranked as med-10s, the equivalent of “crew chief” on a standard corps.

Welcome to campus, first-years. We hope that Orientation is treating you well. Enjoy Camp Amherst while you still can; classes start next week.

We wanted to use this opportunity to offer you a short introduction to our group, and to offer some advice about when to call us for urgent medical help.

Your first introduction to us was through the RC skit. You learned that we are the “premier emergency medical squad on campus,” that we “help the sick, the injured and sometimes those who have had too much to drink.” For a sentence-long summary, this was fairly accurate. Together with Campus Police, ACEMS responds to every medical emergency that is reported on campus. Three responders are on duty at any given time, operating through 12-hour shifts. Though approximately 40 percent of calls are alcohol-related, we see everything from broken bones to severe allergic reactions. Our members are not paid and have to complete a rigorous EMT-B course followed by a competitive audition in order to join. Though we have staff advisors, our Board of Directors is composed exclusively of students, and we take pride in how our circumstance allows us to be especially in touch with the population that we serve.

The philosophy behind Amherst’s EMS system is particularly pragmatic, favoring the well-being of the student body over a strict system of punishment. We operate under a limited system of medical amnesty; if a student requests medical assistance after having taken a substance that would ordinarily cause them legal concern, campus police will take reasonable measures to limit or even eradicate punitive measures if it is that student’s first infraction. In general, if campus police does write up a student for a substance-related incident (usually resulting from underage drinking), recourse sought “against” the student rarely exceeds a polite conversation with a dean or other administrative official.

Keefe Health Center, UMass Health Center and Cooley Dickinson Hospital are all available medical resources. If you are experiencing something that requires urgent attention, or are unable to get yourself to one of these places, please call ACEMS for an evaluation. The following is a list (though certainly NOT an exhaustive one) of circumstances when you should give us a ring:
Severe illness or general distress
Allergic reaction, especially when sudden or uncommon
Excessive or uncontrollable vomiting
Difficulty with breathing or chest pain
Decreased level of responsiveness, especially when induced by alcohol, drugs or diabetic emergency
Confusion, severely decreased level of cognition or acute, unexplained change in mood or behavior
Physical trauma or injury such as laceration, abrasion or breakage/tearing
Intake of a potentially hazardous substance
A threat of self-harm or harm to others

Anything you are on the fence about. If you are unsure about whether or not something merits medical attention, we urge that you call ACEMS anyway.