After the Emory Emergency Medical Service (EEMS) program paused last year as a result of COVID-19 safety precautions, Emory Police Department (EPD) Chief Rus Drew emailed EEMS members on April 1 informing them that the program will not resume this fall.
Drew’s email did not identify a specific reason for why the program was ending, but noted that DeKalb American Medical Response has been serving as the primary first responders since EEMS was paused.
The decision to sunset the program did not involve input from members of the EEMS Command Staff or the program’s full-time managers, EEMS Chief Ariana Jackson (21C) wrote in an April 6 email to the Wheel. Instead, Drew met with students on March 31 to explain the reasoning for the program’s termination.
“The decision caught the EEMS staff as off-guard as it caught the community and alumni,” Jackson wrote. “Since the announcement, Command Staff has not been given specific, identifiable reasons from anyone in the department on why the decision was made.”
EEMS has been Georgia’s only collegiate first responder program for nearly 30 years. The program runs, on average, 800 to 1,000 calls on campus per academic year “that involve faculty, staff and visitors,” Jackson said. Around “35 to 40 EMTs/Advanced EMTs [are] on the EEMS operations roster at any given time,” she said. Many volunteers from the program have continued their health care journeys by pursuing successful careers in the field.
The EPD is working to “find a new home” for the EEMS program, Drew wrote in an April 19 email to the Wheel.
“We have an opportunity to re-envision the future of EEMS and are undertaking a full review to ensure this program meets the goals of our community,” Drew wrote. “EPD is playing a key role in this effort, maintaining all EEMS records, equipment and vehicles for potential transfer. We hope to identify a new home for EEMS soon and will share that update with the Emory community.”
Jacob Klaus (20C) was active with EEMS from 2016 to 2020. In May of 2020, he accepted a position with a 911 EMS agency in DeKalb County as an Advanced EMT.
During his time with EEMS, Klaus reached the rank of Captain and served as Division Chief and Training Manager. He wrote in an April 27 email to the Wheel that EEMS shaped a large portion of his Emory experience and that he would “never have been exposed” to this career path if it wasn’t for the program.
“Emory EMS is often the closest available EMS unit in the area,” Klaus wrote. “One of the amazing things about Emory EMS is our ability to rapidly respond to medical emergencies in and around campus. There were so many times where we would be on scene and helping someone in a matter of minutes with someone having a time-sensitive medical emergency like an allergic reaction or an asthma attack.”
Jackson wrote that EEMS alumni and current providers have reached out to those in the program “devastated” about the decision to terminate the program.
“Many of our alumni consider EEMS to have been the most impactful and important part of their undergraduate years,” Jackson wrote. “We frequently hear from alumni who tell us that EEMS shaped them into the leaders they are today.”
Jackson also wrote that prospective students have reached out to her and other EEMS representatives, saying that they are considering transferring to different universities following the news of the program’s cancellation.
Jackson expressed hope for a program to replace EEMS.
“The current Command Staff is actively working to set up meetings with departments in the hopes of continuing EEMS’ legacy,” Jackson wrote. “Even if it is unable to return looking the exact same, by finding a new home, the goal is to then work to rebuild the program.”