By Shelby Pendowski
In the past, when a student, faculty or visitor at Grand Valley State University called 911 for a medical emergency on the Allendale Campus, the operator would route them through to the Allendale Fire Department.
However, at a recent Allendale Charter Township meeting, GVSU officials informed the board that this will no longer be the case. Beginning in the 2015 fiscal year, GVSU will provide their own medical responders for all medical emergencies that occur on campus.
“The decision was made by GVSU administrators in order to provide quicker response times for the Grand Valley community,” said Shirlene Armstrong, a member of GVSU’s Student Senate.
On average, the Allendale Fire Department takes about 210 medical calls from GVSU a year. With their facility located at 6676 Lake Michigan Dr. in Allendale, it is about a 10 minute drive for the responders to travel to campus.
Providing an emergency medical responding service on campus will cut down on the commute, which is important when minutes or even seconds are crucial to the health and well-being of a person.
“For the Grand Valley community, this means the medical response times will be quicker and medical situations can be handled more efficiently,” Armstrong said.
The medical response team will be composed of officers of the Grand Valley Police Department. According to Allendale Fire Department Fire Chief Michael Keefe, GVPD will train their department through an outside resource.
“We are welcoming it,” Keefe said. “If that is something that (GVSU) wants to do, we’re fine to let them do that.”
The change in procedure will take effect in the 2015 fiscal year according to Keefe and Armstrong, shifting the cost of medical emergencies from the fire department’s budget to GVSU’s budget.
“I am very impressed that GVSU made the decision to increase the service on campus,” said Allendale Township Supervisor Jerry Alkema. “Obviously with full time staff on campus, the response time will be greatly improved.”
Although the medical team at the Allendale Fire Department will no longer respond to GVSU medical emergencies, they will still respond to all fire calls, Armstrong said.
The Allendale Fire Department will also provide assistance if there is ever a time when the GVSU medical responders need help or have a high fluctuation of medical emergencies at one time.
“At the last meeting, it was confirmed that GVSU had started training their officers on medicals and, after being trained, they would start responding to medicals,” Alkema said. “At no time will Allendale ever refuse medical service to GVSU. If GVSU ever had more calls than they had staff, we would respond.”
Details regarding how and when staff of the GVPD will be trained has yet to be released. For more information on how to handle a medical emergency at GVSU visit www.gvsu.edu/emergency/medical-emergency-5.htm or contact GVPD at (616) 331-3255.