The first aid club on campus is hoping to create an on-call student first aid service, and is asking Students’ Council if they could have a referendum to charge students a fee without a petition.
The group was asking to become a Dedicated Fee Unit (DFU),or an organization supported by a fee paid by all undergraduate students for a service. Campus DFUs include the Alberta Public Interest Research Group, the Campus Food Bank, and The Gateway Student Journalism Society.
On Tuesday, the University of Alberta First Aid Responders (UAFAR) presented to council their plan to create an on-call service capable of responding to emergencies. Victor Mocanu, a vice president of the group, said a student fee would allow them to expand to an on-call unit. Mocanu asked council to waive the need for the group to gather signatures from 15 per cent of the undergraduate student population (about 4,600 students) before a referendum can be considered.
During the presentation, Mocanu gave anecdotal evidence for the need of an on-call student first aid team, mentioning an incident where a professor in his class fainted and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) took 40 minutes to arrive, by which time the professor had already been revived.
“It took 40 minutes for EMS to get there when actually they didn’t really need to; someone trained in standard first aid could’ve been there,” he said
According to Mocanu, the money from the DFU would go into equipment such as cervical collars, and oxygen tanks. He said the goal was to create a service that would complement EMS in the same way U of A Protective Services compliments the Edmonton Police Service.
“Extreme concerns” from council
While Students’ Council recognized Mocanu’s passion for the group, the tone of the following question and answer session was largely one of concern.
A number of councillors were critical of the fact the group seemed to want to replicate services provided by other groups, as both UAPS and Residence Assistants having first aid training.
Students’ Union executives were also critical of how the group didn’t seem to have consulted students before coming to council with their proposal. Vice-president (operations & finance) Robyn Paches said the Students’ Union legislation around referendums is there to ensure there’s student consultation.
“This petition is essential to ensure this is actually a need on campus because my gut feel … is that there are already services that exist that provide this,” Paches said.
Paches also spoke from past experience as a former medical responder, and said students shouldn’t “kid around” during emergency situations and should go straight to professional service providers.
Vice-president (external) Reed Larsen said he had “extreme concerns.”
“If this is something that you are passionate about and you want to see on campus before your time is out … then you go and talk to 4,000 people, you go and get that done,” he said. “If that comes back and there is a plan for all of these other things, don’t get me wrong, I’ll be on board, but I haven’t seen that.”
Paches mentioned that the only recent instance the petition process was skipped was in the case of the Campus Food Bank’s DFU last year. He said they were the exception because Campus Food Bank was previously a Students’ Union run service, and there were no competing services on campus.
“The reason they didn’t have the volunteers (to get signatures for a petition) was because their volunteers were too busy making hampers for people that were starving,” he said.
At the end of the question and answer session, Mocanu said he would consider the feedback he received and have the group start setting up the work needed for the petition in order to return to council in the future.
Following the presentation, Students’ Council will vote on UAFAR’s request at their next meeting on January 9, 2018.