On Thursday, Feb. 9th, Boston College Emergency Medical Services (BCEMS) was equipped with its Disaster Response Team (DRT) to expand its response capability during Winter Storm Niko, the creditor for last Thursday’s snow day.
BCEMS is a fully licensed student volunteer ambulance company that operates out of a Class V non-transporting ambulance every night. Apart from having nightly coverage, the organization provides a staff for sporting games, concerts, and other student events on campus as well as offering CPR and first aid classes. According to the BCEMS President, Liam Hafter, MCAS ’19, the team logged 8,794 volunteer hours on duty in the 15’-16’ academic year alone.
A special feature of the organization is the DRT. Any BCPD Command Staff member or BCEMS Command Staff member can activate the response team. “The DRT was created to allow for immediate response to incidents on campus or in the city that would need extra man-power for response.” Hafter continues, “Any major disaster scenario necessitates special consideration for the availability of emergency medical care.”
BCEMS last activated its DRT in January 2015 for Winter Storm Juno when snowfall reached upward of 25 inches. The team was called because of the projected delay in ambulance response and increased hazards due to the weather conditions. In April 2013, when Stayer Hall experienced a fire from a student’s room, BCEMS and the DRT came together since the extent of the damage was unknown and officials were unsure how long students would be displaced.
John Tommaney, BC Director of Emergency Management, and John King, Executive Director of Public Safety and Chief of Boston College Police, activated the DRT last Thursday in preparation for the impending snowstorm.
At the onset of Tommaney and King’s decision to activate, Hafter along with BCEMS Director of Operations Kyle Lawrence, MCAS ’18, created the schedule and organized the volunteers who would make up the Incident Action Plan. The plans were in place before the snow day was announced to all those within the BC community.
Despite near white-out conditions and extreme difficulty responding to calls, the day “went without a hitch,” says Hafter, who is hoping the same thing can be said for Orson, the next winter storm.