By Maurice Cacho
A student group that would respond to emergencies on campus is in the works, but security is leery of the plan.
First-year Journalism student Josh Bezanson is starting a team of first-aid trained students that would respond to emergencies on campus. Currently, there are 14 Ontario universities that have a dedicated team to respond to on-campus emergencies before ambulance crews arrive. Ryerson is one of five that doesn’t.
“It’s not that crazy of an idea because pretty much every other school has it,” Bezanson said. But for the last year and a half, the university has been putting together its own first-response program, which would be part of security services, said Julia Lewis, head of health and safety at Ryerson.
The campus paramedics would be a much broader service than the one Bezanson is proposing and will have priority over the student group, she said. “We were very surprised about it and obviously have some concerns,” Lewis said. “Our practice is not to use students in a volunteer capacity for something as critical as personal safety and security.”
Bezanson’s volunteers would be equipped with pagers and radios and would have life-saving defibrillators to help those suffering from a heart attack. His group would be a member of the Association of Campus Emergency Response Teams, present at most other universities. Still, Bezanson hopes his team will be able to work with security.
Lawrence Robinson, manager of security, said he sat down and spoke with Benzanson over some coffee about a possible merger, but right now it was too early to talk about how that may work. Bezanson has approached RyeSAC for support. Before he can get RyeSAC’s approval to become an official campus group he has to first have members signed up.
Then he would have to go to the student group committee to be deemed a campus group, said Leatrice Spevack, campus groups administrator at RyeSAC. “Personally, I think it’s a fantastic idea,” she said. “We just have to make sure that all the liability issues are taken care of.”
A former volunteer firefighter with the Calgary Fire Department, Bezanson is pleased with the response he has received from students, RyeSAC and security.
The RyeSAC first responder team would respond to more than emergencies-it would also educate the community as well. The group would hold workshops on first aid and CPR.
The university and student-run programs would also work closely with Toronto Emergency Medical Services.