The Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service celebrated the addition of their first new ambulance in five years and commemorated the death of a Maryland first responder at a dedication ceremony on Healy Lawn on Sunday.
GERMS Unit 10 is the newest addition to the student-run emergency medical service organization.
The new ambulance, which was purchased from Bestco Auto Sales in 2015, features a new safety system that provides airbags and three-point seatbelts in the patient compartment. The upgrade also includes a more advanced siren system, greater interior room and a shock-absorbing system.
Former GERMS President Justin Gregg (NHS ’16) welcomed the audience and observed a moment of silence for John Ulmschneider, a 13-year veteran of Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department in Maryland, who was killed by gunfire while attending an emergency call Friday night.
Founded in 1979, GERMS first began its operations using a golf cart, donated by the medical school. In 1982, GERMS was formally established as an undergraduate activity. Thirty-four GERMS members passed the District of Columbia EMT test in December 1982, and today GERMS has over 80 EMTs.
Former captain and current crew chief Ryan Jeffery (SFS ‘16) said GERMS has made a significant impact on the Georgetown community.
“GERMS commits itself wholly to providing the absolute best basic life support,” Jeffery said. “This dedication to excellence has saved countless lives in the Georgetown community and beyond over the past 44 years.”
In 1993, GERMS co-founded the National Collegiate Emergency Medical Services Organization, which hosts more than 250 member organizations from around the world. Last year, GERMS responded to 894 calls for service and provided EMT service over the summer. It also provided standby service for the past four presidential inaugurations.
Director of Health Education Services and GERMS Faculty Advisor Carol Day congratulated the organization on its student-run autonomy.
“It’s been my pleasure to work closely with leadership and help problem-solve the kinds of unique challenges that sometimes arise,” Day said. “The people that I’ve come to know in GERMS are some of the finest individuals I’ve ever met and have had the pleasure to work with.”
Gregg said GERMS leadership saw the need for a new ambulance after the arrival of Unit 9 in February 2011. As Unit 8 increasingly required additional maintenance, GERMS submitted a proposal for the university to purchase a new ambulance in the 2013-2014 school year.
Rev. Salvador Jordan, S.J., then blessed the ambulance before GERMS members uncorked champagne on the vehicle.
Gregg said his time in GERMS is filled with team memories.
“Looking back on my time in GERMS, it is clear that there could never be one memory to summarize the experience,” Gregg said. “It is the dinner trips to Surfside with fellow crew members that get interrupted by emergency calls back on campus, the conversations at 4 a.m. that turn strangers into best friends, the leadership meetings that last three hours even though no one wants to be there for more than 20 minutes and that feeling you get when your patient smiles and says thank you when you safely deliver them to the emergency room.”
Current GERMS President Alexandra O’Kane (COL ’17) said the ambulance shows GERMS’ potential.
“The accomplishment of obtaining this ambulance represents the ambitious goals that GERMS is possible of achieving, keeping the successes of the past as well as the continued aspirations for the future in mind,” O’Kane said.
GERMS Director of Public Relations Eleanor Fanto (COL ’17), said the new ambulance is a promising sign of GERMS’ continued service in the future.
“To get this new ambulance is an important sign for the future of GERMS,” Fanto said. “It’s the sign that we’ll continue serving successfully for the next few years.”