On Sunday, April 28, Springfield College happily hosted the Special Olympics. While the event was generally successful, in the early afternoon a man who is mentally handicapped walked off and was reported missing around 2:30 in the afternoon.
Springfield College Department of Public Safety and the Police Department of Springfield immediately jumped into action and began searching for the individual. Roughly four hours later, both departments were still searching for the individual. Due to the struggle to find the individual, Public Safety decided to call in back up.
“We got the call at 6:15 p.m. asking for available EMTs to go on search for a missing person from the Special Olympics from the event earlier,” explained junior Chief of EMS Alex Priest. “We were able to round up about six EMTs right away, five of which were certified in search and rescue management, and then three of those five were search and rescue managers.”
When sophomore Rick Morrill, Priest, freshman Daniel Clasby, junior Deputy Chief Emily DiPietro, junior Operations Captain Mark Beetz and junior James Gates arrived at Public Safety, the others had been searching for nearly six hours already.
“They searched pretty much the whole campus, but they wanted to search again,” Priest said.
When the six arrived to Public Safety, there really wasn’t any major search plan set into place, so the six took the initiative to split the group up so that they could cover more ground quicker.
The group made sure to check all of the major areas on campus first, including the Richard B. Flynn Campus Union and Babson Library. They also used the GEM car to be more proactive in their search.
The six were also worried that nightfall was coming soon.
“It was getting pretty close to becoming dark outside, so that would make it much more difficult,” DiPietro said. “We were kind of concerned about covering all the bases.”
While the six were fighting the clock, after a short time of searching, DiPietro and Beetz spotted the lost individual.
“About 20 minutes after we started searching, our crew that was over near the Wellness Center spotted the lost subject and called it in to the police,” said Priest. “The police [then] came and scooped him up and took him to get medical care to make sure he was okay.”
While many EMTs are not trained and certified in search and rescue management, that is one of the first classes the Emergency Medical Service Management majors take here at SC.
“If you’re in the EMSM program, one of the first classes you take is Search and Rescue Fundamentals,” Priest explained. “Then as you work up, probably around your junior year, you take the Managing the Lost Person [class]. Most people are certified at least in the fundamental search and rescue.”
“It’s not common in all of EMS, [but] its common here,” Beetz added.
Having five out of the six EMTs being certified in search and rescue management greatly benefited the entire search party. The six used their knowledge they learned in the classroom, and then applied it to a real life situation that actually helped rescue an individual this past Sunday.
“This event was kind of an up for us because a lot of people on this campus kind of think we just babysit drunk kids on Friday and Saturday nights, so to be able to let people understand that we do a lot more than just babysitting [is nice],” Priest stated.
You can follow the Springfield College EMS squad on their website at http://www.springfieldcollegeems.com/, or on their Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pringfieldCollegeEms?fref=ts.