Hospitals prep for Unofficial

Howard Marsh (right), paramedic at Provena, demonstrates how to flush an IV on Shane Murtha (left), an EMT at Provena. ME Online

By Megan McNamara

As students get an official start on Unofficial with visions of green beer dancing in their heads, local hospitals are prepared. Provena Covenant Hospital is expanding their emergency services.

“We are putting two extra ambulances on the street, an extra dispatcher and the whole department is coming up with a call schedule,” said Dr. James Ellis, chairman of Emergency Services at Provena. “We are beefing up staffing in the ER until Saturday morning in anticipation of the influx of intoxicated students. It ends up being an extremely busy department because the event gets out of control.”

Provena’s ambulance service is also being enlarged. Howard Marsh, Pro Ambulance paramedic, said that the hospital is pulling extra staff and ambulances in coordination with the cities of Champaign and Urbana.

Additionally, the hospital is putting a command or “C1” vehicle on campus for supervisors to ride around in.

“They can drive around and help other ambulances out if there is a patient refusal (too many people for the ambulance),” Marsh said. “It is a licensed paramedic unit but doesn’t transport (patients).”

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Also, if an ambulance has to leave the area in its jurisdiction, the C1 takes over in what is called systems status management. That way no area is left uncovered.

“Tomorrow, we will be having two extra ambulance units around in case we need supplies brought to the hospital,” Marsh said. “If we’re needed, we’re there.”

Carle Hospital is also ready for Unofficial, though they don’t plan to take as active a role as Provena.

Because of how the area is split between the two hospitals, Provena’s ambulances will cover Campustown on Unofficial this year.

“The city is divided up into a grid system so Arrow (Carle’s ambulances) covers one part of the city, and Pro (Provena’s ambulances) covers another part,” said Allison McLaughlin, spokesperson for Carle Hospital. “We swap, and so Pro ended up having the campus area tomorrow. We are available for support, but Pro is taking the lead.”

McLaughlin said that Carle was able to handle Unofficial last year, and was not overrun with alcohol poisoning.

“We want to be overprepared,” McLaughlin said. “We always have staff on call so that we’re prepared for whatever the community gives us.”

As of 12:50 p.m. Friday, a McKinley Health Center official reported that no alcohol related accidents had been treated at the facility.

Daily Illini staff contributed to this report.