On Aug. 25, the Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) released a post on Instagram stating that they were going on pause this semester.
In an interview with Campus Times, senior and Director of Operations for MERT Joe Ricottone said this pause was operational and that it involved working with UR administration to “rework [their] framework” and how they’re “covered under University insurance.” In addition, this pause will also oversee how they’re “[administered] at the school” so that MERT will be able to function “efficiently and safely for all of our students.”
The process leading up to the decision for the break began before the start of the semester, according to Ricottone.
Ricottone said MERT was approached by the administration before the semester started about long-term organizational goals and issues. “The decision [for the pause] was not really ours. That was more or less […] the result of a meeting we had with […] administration.”
In the meantime, Ricottone and the Associate Director of Operations, junior Jenny Lee, stated that MERT was no longer going to be taking shifts and calls in “the immediate future,” which Ricottone said was “very unfortunate.”
“I feel bad not being able to respond to calls on campus,” Ricottone said. “It’s certainly not ideal timing or an ideal situation for students. I mean, it’s something that needs to happen and which we’re trying as best we can.”
Both Lee and Ricottone encouraged students to call Public Safety or an outside agency in the case of a medical emergency.
“You should never hesitate to reach out for help,” Ricottone said. “Medical amnesty is still in effect. It […] is very important to prioritize your health.”
Though it’s unsure how long the pause is going to take, MERT will still continue to recruit and train new members.
One of the bigger concerns MERT currently has, according to Ricottone, revolves around making sure that MERT members stay trained and ready for “whenever we do come out of this pause to continue to respond to calls and keep students safe.” Another concern stems from the fact that MERT is still considered a student organization despite its unique role in comparison to other organizations.
Similar to previous years, students will still be expected to take an EMT class and have weekly training. Meanwhile, Ricottone said MERT is hoping to maintain their skills as well as reaching out to other universities to see how their agencies are administered.
In addition, the organization’s looking to engage more with different student organizations such as the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students this semester to interact more with the rest of the student body and train more people to be ready for emergency situations.
Ricottone said the University administration will be further communicating with students later on.
For any questions related to MERT, reach out to them on either their Instagram @rcmert or firstname.lastname@example.org.