Aug 252005
Authors: Chris Kampfe

Hearing that two Colorado students died last fall, simply from ignorance, was hard to swallow. Especially for Anthony Rossi.

"It was hard to know that people were dying around the country because their friends didn't know they were dying," said Rossi, a recent University of Colorado-Boulder graduate.

After the deaths of Samantha Spady and Lynn Gordon Bailey, Jr. last year from alcohol poisoning, Rossi formed Student Emergency Medical Services (SEMS). SEMS is a group of CU students with Emergency Medical Training certification, who volunteer their services by attending CU social functions and assisting intoxicated students.

Thus far, the program has been well received. Rossi said the Boulder community as well as the CU administration has shown their full support. And more importantly so have the students whose lives they have been saving.

Due to certain confidentiality laws in the medical field, Rossi was only able to speak vaguely about the group's successes last semester.

"I can assure you that we had responses for some very sick individuals," Rossi said.

SEMS volunteers are not licensed for emergency transportation, but they are a legitimate emergency medical provider. The group currently has 16 EMTs on call and is training 30 more this week.

Some of the group's success may be attributed to their progressive philosophy. Joseph T. Young, MD, a sociology professor at CU and the group's medical advisor, attributes much of their success to the fact the group is student-driven.

"We're very practical and pragmatic," Young said. "We realize people between the ages of 18 and 21 are going to drink, we're just trying to (save lives)."

The group's philosophy is not to police or regulate parties in any way, but rather to simply recognize potential alcohol poisoning.

"We don't just throw out EMTs into parties, we're students as well," Rossi said. "It's about being an eye for when something's getting out of hand."

The next phase of SEMS on the Boulder campus is education. Starting this fall, Rossi and other SEMS volunteers will be offering free medical training in the dorms to incoming freshmen.

Although he has been contacted by interested universities across the country, Rossi is trying to extend the program here to CSU. Making Colorado the model state for SEMS is Rossi's top priority at the moment.

"We shared in the tragedy, let's share in the solution," he said.

Rossi has contacted CSU's Interfraternal Council , who are currently addressing the program as a real possibility at CSU.

"From my standpoint, we really need to implement a program like this," said Sheehan Meager, vice president of public relations for the IFC. "(SEMS) is something we're interested in."

The IFC started sessions this week, and Meager said bringing SEMS to CSU is an important issue.

"The students are there, the skills are there, now it's time to save some lives," Rossi said.

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