GERMS to Celebrate 30 Years of Work
Published: Friday, October 5, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 5, 2012 02:10
With a weekend of events for members and alumni, Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service will honor its three-decade-long transformation from a humble golf cart to three ambulances at an anniversary celebration later this month.
The weekend-long event, slated to start October 26, is intended to reacquaint founding members and recent graduates with the organization’s history and set the stage for future goals.
“The celebration is not all about showing off how great GERMS is; it’s about celebrating the success GERMS has had in serving the community for so many years,” Lauren Cournoyer (NHS ’13), chair of the GERMS Crew Chief Council, said.
The student-run service, which was founded in 1982, began with one E-Z-GO electric golf cart.
“There were several pretty serious incidents on campus where, if there had been health providers on campus and in the area, would have meant the difference between life and death,” GERMS’ Director of Training Claire McDaniel (COL ’14) said. “[These events] got the impetus going on campus that there needed to be something more immediate than [the D.C. Fire Department].”
During its initial years, GERMS assisted a student who fell through plate glass and cut himself badly. According to GERMS’ President Taylor Miller (SFS ’13), the doctor at the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital issued a report saying the student’s life would have been threatened without GERMS’ assistance.
“That’s what really helped us get off the ground in terms of getting recognition with the university,” Miller said.
Thirty years later, the group has about 130 active members and three ambulances but is still looking for ways to expand.
“We are on ambulances eight and nine,” McDaniel said. “Ambulance eight is on its last legs, so we’re going to propose a new ambulance in the spring, so [we] should be on track for a new ambulance in 2015.”
In the past five years, GERMS has also changed its organizational structure. This decision spread leadership responsibilities from one president and one vice president to a president and three vice presidents. New crew chiefs are now responsible for mentoring GERMS members and connecting with medical directors.
Kate McClellan (COL ’14), GERMS’ director of public relations and former Hoya Staff Writer, said she has been canvassing Georgetown residences in hopes of raising further awareness about the service and expanding GERMS’ relationship with the surrounding area in the coming years. The team’s responsibilities stretch north to Calvert Street just past Burleith, east to Wisconsin Avenue and M Street, west to Foxhall Road and south to Canal Road, just before the Potomac.
“A typical ambulance ride costs an exorbitant amount of money, and then you have to pay for the hospital bill, so the fact that we’re a free service and that we’re so close by — I was astounded that people had not heard of us before,” McClellan said.
But the team’s efforts are not confined to the Georgetown neighborhood. During times like presidential inaugural balls and the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon, GERMS spreads its services into the greater D.C. area.
In recent years, GERMS has also assisted on standby during the Marine Corps Marathon, Rock ’n’ Roll USA Marathon and the Sweetlife Festival, according to Miller.
He added that GERMS is looking to start a CPR program for the Georgetown community and hold classes at a reduced fee for faculty.
Currently, the GERMS community consists of a diverse group of students, including at least one student from every undergraduate school, and only 50 percent are pursuing science majors. But the members are all linked by their dedication to volunteerism.
“I think a lot of people put a lot more into GERMS just because it is a voluntary organization,” Miller said. “They don’t come into GERMS because they expect to get paid for it, and every week I am amazed at how much people give to the organization.”