Ari Saati, Editor-in-Chief
The Oneonta State Emergency Squad (OSES) has officially deemed themselves “out of service” after a volunteer’s injury revealed they have been operating without any form of insurance for years. The squad, which handles medical emergencies on SUNY Oneonta’s campus, has been out of commission since Friday, March 8, and will remain dormant until an insurance policy can be acquired.
The all-volunteer organization served as a fast-acting mediator, responding to campus emergencies before local authorities, and assessing the severity of any medical emergency if the Oneonta Fire Department and ambulance are needed. “They’re really busy right now anyway, and this is adding to their call volume, so they even have a nearby station standing by. It’s putting a strain on the city,” said Student Association President and OSES volunteer, Jimmy Johnston.
Now that OSES isn’t active, campus emergencies will be brought to local authorities without the steady hand of the volunteer squad. “[The Oneonta Fire Department] is going to send an ambulance every time, they’re going to send a whole EMT crew everytime. The OSES crew are like the mediators; they go there and ask ‘Can we help you get better, or do you need to go to the hospital?’ They only call the fire department or ambulance if they absolutely have to go to the hospital,” said former OSES volunteer and SUNY Oneonta senior, Sarah Taggart.
The administration is weighing new options for bringing OSES onto an insurance policy, as OSES itself operates in a grey area, receiving funding from both the Student Association (SA) and the University Police Department. “It’s important that we protect them as volunteers of the college,” said Vice President of Student Development, Steven Perry.
This all comes on the heels of the recently passed medical amnesty policy, meant to encourage students to call OSES in the event of a drug and alcohol emergency. “People have heard a lot about medical amnesty lately, so people are calling OSES more, but now they’re calling and getting the real fire department,” said Taggart.
Hopes to clear OSES for a new policy are high, and the push to bring the school’s emergency responders back in action is in full force, especially in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day weekend. The holiday has become synonymous with binge drinking across college campuses, creating a hig-risk weekend for medical emergencies associated with drugs and alcohol. “This weekend coming up scares me to death, in terms of irresponsible drinking,” said Perry. “If I could resolve it by the end of the day, I would.”