In the early hours of one Wednesday morning, sometime around 4AM, I was startled awake by a loud beeping. A woman’s monotone voice droned: “EST, respond to Accidental Injury in Lien Dorm. EST, respond to an Accidental Injury in Lien Dorm.” I leapt out of my bed, feet landing on a week’s worth of dirty clothes – clothes I would probably wear again before washing – strewn across my bedroom floor. I rummaged around with my toes until a sliver of navy caught my eye and I pulled my duty pants up, threw my shoes on, grabbed my radio, and swept out the room.
Jogging to a call is the worst part. The time to think about what horrible things are taking place in the room before I get there, what may go wrong, haunt my mind. When I arrive with my two other crew members, breathing a little heavier than any person my age should be after 30 seconds of jogging, the world snaps into focus. We walk into the room to find our patient sitting with a towel on their hand but otherwise nonplussed.
The four of us did the traditional dance of emergency care – the three team members bustling around the patient getting a look at this and that, finding heart rates, blood pressures, and glucoses, all while the patient tries to answer the questions tossed at them. Did you hit your head? No. Did you lose consciousness? No. Are you experiencing any shortness of breath? No. All routine questions asked on every call, generally with similar results. One of us unwrapped the towel, I don’t remember who. The skin underneath was slightly red but otherwise normal – they had spilled some hot tea on it before going to bed during a late night of studying. We released the patient to themselves; there was no need for the Clayton fire department, which does the majority of our hospital transports, as well as running our continuing education sessions.
After a short debrief with my other team members I went back to my room and tried to get some sleep before my 12pm physics lecture. As I sat in bed, I reflected on the evening. This call was not unique. On EST (Emergency Support Team) we get accidental injuries, sick cases, and other emergency calls all the time at all hours – after all we are a 24/7 service responding to all emergency calls on campus. The team has about 70 people on it, divided into three tiers of medics, all licensed as EMT’s in Missouri. The tiers help us facilitate responsibilities on every call and run smoothly when under pressure.
EST also gave me my first community on campus. We train together, spend time in our office planning coverage and events, and often turn to each other for support. The balance between professionality on each and every call and friendliness among team members is a truly unique aspect of the team. I spoke to an EST alumni earlier this year and he described the community the team gave him in one word: family. That was ten years ago. I feel that warmth on the team and hope that it continues ten years into the future and beyond.