Rowan EMS prepares for pandemic

Rowan EMS vehicles outside of their headquarters behind the Winans Hall on Rowan's campus. Staff Writer / Mackenzie Fitchett.

Even as Rowan University has moved to online classes, Rowan’s student-staffed Emergency Medical Services (EMS) team will continue serving the Rowan community throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Scott Woodside, director for Student Health Services at Rowan University, the Wellness Center and EMS have been collaboratively preparing to respond to COVID-19-related emergencies as a resource against the spread of the disease.

“All students are encouraged to call the Wellness Center or their doctor if they feel they’re ill and have been in contact with a confirmed case of someone with COVID-19. If students do come to the Wellness Center we have procedures in place to isolate and protect the patient and our staff. We will offer guidance on testing if appropriate and self-care if the patient needs to be isolated.”

Woodside assures that there are ample supplies available to Rowan EMS.

“We’ve been offering guidance to the university in terms of public health practices and standards,” Woodside said. “And we are in constant communication with the local health department and other NJ universities. We’ve participated in tabletop exercises with the local health care systems and internally with our emergency operations team. We’re working very closely with Rowan Medicine to make sure we’re following best practices, have proper equipment, including N95 respirators, surgical masks and other protective measures are put in place.”

A member of Rowan EMS. Editor-in-Cheif / Miguel Martinez

N95 respirators protect the wearer from about 95% of both liquid and airborne particles 0.3 microns in diameter. They are only suggested for medical use as they must be properly fitted and certified. However, they are in short supply among other EMS services across the country as non-medical personnel purchase them.

“We’re continuing to fit-test the remainder of our EMS and [Wellness] Center staff. We have n95s and surgical masks available,” Woodside said.

John Brittin, a senior advertising major and former captain of Rowan EMS, advises that students stay calm and continue taking preventative measures such as hand-washing and social distancing.

“Use standard precautions,” Brittin said. “That’s the only part of this situation that you have control over.”

Woodside added that Rowan EMS have been prepared for a number of different contingencies.

“They continuously train and perform exercises to make sure we are prepared,” he said. “We’re fortunate to have significant resources in EMS and a very dedicated team a first responders.”

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