CC's student-led medical squad braces for fall

Meanwhile, colleges across Colorado drop more clues about the upcoming semester

Good morning, and happy Wednesday. This is our 10th newsletter, and we appreciate you welcoming us into your inboxes over these past weeks.

⚕️Today we introduce you to the Colorado College student-led Emergency Medical Services team and how it’s navigating hiring and pandemic-related protocol changes. Then we break down new fall higher-ed plans across the state.

➡️ICYMI: Yesterday, Phoebe Lostroh gave her weekly COVID-19 forecast for El Paso County and explained why she thinks SARS Coronavirus-2 might be spread by “aerosols” and not just droplets.

Want to join a CC student emergency medical squad? They’re looking for new members

Each year, graduation impacts student groups across campus by reducing their ranks. This year, Colorado College’s student-run emergency medical squad, known as CCEMS, was no exception. 

The group lost about half its staff to graduation, senior Vic Cusanello, one of the squad’s student directors, tells The CC COVID-19 Reporting Project. Now the team is looking for new members. 

For the uninitiated, the CCEMS is a group of medically trained students ranging from first-years to seniors that varies in number each year. Last year, 19 students made up the unit. On a given day, they stand ready to treat anyone for anything at any time. They respond to medical emergencies on campus and also provide assistance at events and club sports games where they work with an athletic trainer. 

Three students launched the group in 2014, and students have to apply to join. Its members are made up of emergency medical technicians and others who might also hold more advanced medical certifications. Their work hours differ from other campus jobs; when others are clocking out, CCEMS students are getting ready to stay up late on weekends to be on call for emergencies. 

“In recent years, the demand for CCEMS has increased as the campus community has become more familiar with the services their peers provide,” reported the CC Bulletin in 2019. One might imagine their role in the coming semester could be unprecedented.

The squad participates in regular training sessions throughout the year, but when they return to campus this fall, how they do it might look a little different. They work with Campus Safety and an outside medical director, but CCEMS also keeps in contact with the Colorado Springs Fire Department and American Medical Response, or AMR, of Colorado Springs to provide medical attention on campus. In the fall, everything from their use of personal protective equipment to CPR protocols could change in response to COVID-19.  

“As far as training goes I think the changes from COVID could be implemented through those regular trainings quite seamlessly,” Cusanello says. 

CCEMS will likely shape their protocols around ones already established in the Springs and will work with other organizations including the fire department and AMR if calls come in that require advanced care, or could put the CCEMS responders in danger. 

“We … are first and foremost students on campus,” Cusanello says. “So if there ever were a concern of increased exposure, we would call our city’s EMS response team.”

Updated protocols, including the gear responders need to have or wear and what they’re allowed to do, will likely require the squad to acquire additional personal protective equipment such as gowns and masks. As a student group, funding is looking tight, but they’re already thinking of how to get materials they’ll need when students return to campus. Other changes could include additional screening questions during calls and updating their CPR guidelines. 

“[It] will be really important to have that new training for when we get back to campus because things will obviously just look different,” Cusanello says.

Even so-called routine tasks like hiring new members to replace the ones who graduated has become difficult, as the hands-on hiring process can’t be fully replicated online. CCEMS members are usually on campus during New Student Orientation to introduce themselves and their services to new students, and they begin working as soon as the academic year begins. 

Despite not being on campus this summer, CCEMS members have still been providing medical care. One member worked as a medic during a recent protest, and some alumni are working in hospitals.  

“We’re still finding ways to be active in different ways in our community, which is awesome,” Cusanello says. “Because that’s what we want to do, and that’s what we’re supposed to be doing right now.”

Anyone looking to get involved can contact the unit at coloradocollegeEMS[at]gmail[dot]com

College Count: Across Colorado, higher-ed moves forward with plans for fall semester

Last week, we recapped what other colleges and universities around Colorado had announced for the fall. Today, we’re back with new updates about how these schools are envisioning the coming semester. 

  • The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs will hold a mix of in-person and online classes, beginning Aug. 24. In determining which classes will be in-person, UCCS will prioritize classes that require specialized equipment, such as lab and studio courses. Students will also have the opportunity to live on campus, with information about necessary precautions to come in the next few weeks.

  • Metropolitan State University of Denver plans to hold a mix of in-person and online courses. Classes will be sorted into three tiers — “on-campus required, on-campus preferred, and online ready” — to prioritize which should be held on campus. They anticipate at least two-thirds of classes to be held online. The university also announced there will be no tuition increase for the fall 2020 semester. 

  • Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction has begun to open campus facilities at limited capacity and host admissions tours again, which will be appointment-only with only one family at a time to avoid crowds. CMU staff last week also began testing students living on-campus for COVID-19. CMU plans to hold an in-person semester, with the last week of classes and finals conducted remotely.

  • University of Denver is planning to begin the semester Sept. 12 and end classes by Nov. 20, with exams taking place remotely after Thanksgiving. Classes will be primarily face-to-face, combined with a mix of online and hybrid courses. Classrooms will be roughly one-third of normal capacity, and the college will offer classes across more times of the day and days of the week to make up for potential losses. They expect to meet roughly three-quarters of their usual housing needs “and will identify comparable proximate housing for the approximately 700 students who cannot be accommodated.”

  • Adams State University in Alamosa has plans for three weeks of summer in-person class instruction from June 29 to July 17. Additional summer courses are running online through the end of July. 

  • The University of Colorado at Boulder last week announced its “Augmester” will begin Aug. 3 and run through Aug. 20, but will be delivered remotely.

  • Colorado School of Mines in Golden is scheduling to begin in-person instruction on campus with 10 summer courses and about 300 students on June 22. Some of the guidelines they have released for those classes include: 

    • Requiring masks during any in-person interactions.

    • Reconfiguring classrooms to adhere to social distancing, “with a minimum of ~60 square feet per person, or a 9-foot circle,” and disinfecting classrooms daily.

    • Encouraging students to carry and use hand sanitizer after touching surfaces such as doorknobs.

The last update from Colorado College was May 21 announcing the 2020-21 academic calendar, including 11 blocks offered from August through summer 2021. We hope to learn more details by the end of the month.

About the CC COVID-19 Reporting Project

The CC COVID-19 Reporting Project is a student-faculty collaboration by Colorado College student journalists Miriam Brown and Arielle Gordon, Visiting Assistant Professor of Journalism Corey Hutchins, Assistant Professor of English Najnin Islam, and Journalism Institute Director Steven Hayward. Work by Phoebe Lostroh, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology at CC and National Science Foundation Program Director in Genetic Mechanisms, Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, also appears from time to time.

The project seeks to provide frequent updates about CC and other higher education institutions during the pandemic by providing original reporting, analysis, interviews with campus leaders, and context about what state and national headlines mean for the CC community. 

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