UI students gain medical emergency experience


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Some University of Iowa students have taken a ride in an ambulance on a Friday night. But students who are part of the UI Emergency Medical Service group haven't had any Everclear.

The UI emergency medical student interest group provides the opportunity for students to experience medical emergencies in the field, a program that has expanded to include the Johnson County Ambulance Service.

"Riding along in ambulances allows students to get a taste of the real world, what medical emergencies are actually like," said Steve Spenler, the director of the Ambulance Service.

In fact, ride-alongs are now a main focus of the group.

Last fall as an effort to bolster student interest, the group partnered with the Ambulance Service, which provides emergency service for all of Johnson County's 620 square miles.

For most Emergency Medical Service members, riding along only confirms they want to be a paramedic. But ride-alongs can show students other medical paths, said Becky Loyd, a field supervisor for the Ambulance Service.

"We adapt all the time," she said. "You're never fully prepared for absolutely everything, and sometimes students may see a something during the rides that they're more interested in."

The Emergency Medical Service reserved a block on Friday nights for students to observe medical emergencies in an ambulance during an eight-hour block. Around a dozen students participated in the ride-alongs.

The group caters to any student with even a slight interest in the medical field. Their hope is to provide training and insight into the field with CPR training, expert presentations, and socials.

This year, the group is also working to collaborate with the Iowa City Fire Department and the University of Iowa police in an effort to expand the fields in which interested students can participate and observe.

Ride-alongs started last year with Johnson County, but leaders of the 2-year-old student group said they are focused on growing and strengthening the group.

"Our primary goal is training new members getting them CPR certified and CPR teaching certified," said Adam Misfeldt, team commander of the UI emergency medical student interest group. "And most importantly, building new membership."

Along with opportunities to shadow emergency physicians in the UI Hospitals and Clinics emergency center, members of the group also assist with other UI organizations.

"Many of the executive board members are CPR training certified, so we have a pretty large presence in RedWatch and Health Iowa," said Eric Wilson, the operations director for UI emergency medical student interest group.

RedWatch focuses on preventing death from alcohol by CPR certification and alcohol bystander training. Health Iowa works toward supporting student knowledge and includes CPR training.

The group will also work toward becoming a resource for students on campus and be able to report to the scene of an emergency. Their goal, however, is not to replace the Ambulance Service.

"The ultimate goal in a few years is to be the first-responders to campus emergencies," Wilson said. "But that's in the distant future, five or six years from now."

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