The History of Michigan Tech EMS
A statement of the history of Michigan Tech EMS by the Police Commissioner.
“In the summer of 2009, a new director was appointed to oversee Michigan Tech Public Safety (Now the Department of Public Safety and Police Services). After a few months, the director discovered that the DPSPS police officers were providing medical transportation, to the emergency room, for injured parties. In the directors opinion, this practice was not an effective method of operation and he began to search for alternative solutions.
Shortly after this revelation, the director also discovered that, due to the rural location of the University and an unfortunate economic situation, the local ambulance company was underfunded and did not have the capability of having more than one ambulance ‘on duty’ at a time. If this ambulance was busy on a call, any subsequent calls would be answered by an ‘on call’ team staged at the airport. As a result, the response time for an ambulance could take up to forty minutes.
Due to these reasons, the director began exploring different options to resolve this problem. Initially he explored the idea of providing his officers with medical training at the “Medical First Responder” (MFR) level. This option was not well received by the officers and was quickly dismissed. Then the director started to explore the idea of creating and supporting a student group of volunteers who had medical training. The beginnings of a student organization began to form under the name of HERCULES, which was an acronym that actually stood for something… but the meaning has been lost with time.
HERCULES never got off the ground, once it was realized that the extensive medical insurance needed to operate would make the group relatively cost prohibitive. However, further investigation found that medical insurance could be provided if the group fell under the Department of Public Safety and Police Services.
Once the basic idea was formed and an initial plan laid out, the director worked on getting ‘buy in’ from the University administration, the Chief Medical Officer and the Director of Mercy EMS. The director needed to convince these officials that this new organization would not be in competition with Mercy EMS and their main mission would be to provide emergency medical services to a patient until Mercy arrived on scene and took over.
Once these pieces were in place, the director turned to Mr. Jon Stone and asked if he would act as the volunteer director for the EMS program. Mr. Stone agreed and Michigan Tech Emergency Medical Services (MTEMS) was created.
Director Stone worked tirelessly building the program and creating his command staff. Housing Director Travis Pierce was brought on board as the Deputy Director of the program. Starting with literally nothing… no equipment, no budget, no office, the new MTEMS Director and Deputy Director recruited volunteers to the program, obtained donations for equipment and medical supplies, negotiated with Mercy EMS to get an old ambulance donated to the program… negotiated with Portage Health to obtain funds to get the ambulance painted and striped with the MTEMS logos… created an MFR training program available through the university for class credit…. Upgraded the program to and EMT-B class, available to students for class credit… and they are currently working on creating a paramedic program.
MTEMS went from a handful of MFR volunteers who had yellow vests and a few medic supplies in ‘fanny packs’ to an organization that is recognized and registered with the state, have a full range of medic supplies, an EMS Chevy Tahoe that command staff who are ‘on call’ use to respond to calls, a compliment of radios, an off road ‘side by side’ all- terrain vehicle for off road rescues and an all-volunteer staff of approximately 25 Emergency Medical Technicians that are made up of a combination of Michigan Tech students, staff and faculty.
Finally, it was recently discovered that one of the original members of MTEMS has recently graduate from Medical School and is now an MD.
The amazing success of this program is the direct result of the hard work and dedication of Director Jon Stone, Deputy Director Travis Pierce and their command staff.
-Commissioner Daniel Bennett