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On Saturday, Nov. 3, the Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) began coverage of the Riverview Apartments area for what will be a four-week trial period ending Dec. 2, after which MERT will assess the feasibility and need of servicing the area.

During this trial period, a full crew, including at least two New York State EMTs, will be stationed in Riverview from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. — the “highest call volume time,” according to MERT’s Director of Operations and senior Vinny DeRienzo. MERT, which is composed entirely of student volunteers and receives funding from the Students’ Association and UR Security, is on duty on the River Campus from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. seven days a week.

DeRienzo said the decision to start the trial was made in response to high student demand and primarily anecdotal student responses about a need for MERT in this area. These responses increased during the 2011-12 academic year, he said.

“An expansion of services to Riverview has always been an organizational goal,” DeRienzo said, adding that MERT has looked at expanding coverage to Riverview since it was built. “I think that being a residential student entitles students to certain rights and services and I think that MERT is one of them.”

MERT expanded services to encompass Southside Living Center and other off-campus housing areas in 2006 when MERT received a 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee to help members travel around campus from their staging area in the gym in Spurrier Hall. Traveling to areas such as Southside was impossible before MERT obtained the vehicle, given the location of their staging area.

During the trial period, MERT will gather data, the most important aspect of which will be call volume, DeRienzo said. MERT will also assess the ease of responding to emergencies and will discuss the potential of responding from the River Campus in the future or staffing Riverview permanently. MERT aims to make a decision about how to proceed by the start of next semester, DeRienzo said.

MERT has 90 active members, seven of which are crew chiefs, 15 of which are trainees and the remainder of which are general members. DeRienzo said members have stepped up and are covering extra shifts to staff the Riverview crew. He said he is unsure how a permanent presence in Riverview would change MERT and whether or not they would need to expand crews, but said they are looking at all options.

DeRienzo said the possibility of permanently staffing the Riverview area is strengthened by the fact that there will be “a lot more students” in the area in the future once an 11-story building opens adjacent to the Staybridge Suites, which is slated to house as many as 170 students beginning in fall 2013.

“I think it really warrants the need,” he said.

Assistant Director of Security Dana Perrin said that how Security will staff the new residential tower is still uncertain, but that MERT had been “forward thinking” in that if a permanent presence is established in Riverview, they will be well “positioned to respond over there.”

Perrin said that the idea for the new Riverview crew came from MERT.

“I think it’s warranted because there is a fairly large residential population there,” he said, adding that as Riverview is “somewhat removed from the main campus,” MERT’s new presence during the “most active time” of the weekend will enable them to provide quicker service than Rural/Metro Medical Service if the incident does not require a transport. MERT will therefore be “another level of service” for students.”

He agreed with DeRienzo that it remains to be seen how much use the service gets, stating that he would not rule out needing to add more hours or, conversely, finding that it is “not hugely used.”

“We will see if it’s worth it,” he said.

Students are urged to send comments and feedback to during the trial period.

Buletti is a member of the class of 2013.

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