Frequently Asked Questions About BEMCo
What happens when I call BEMCO?
When you call 781-736-3333 you will talk to a Brandeis public safety officer. You will tell them the reason you are calling and the location of the patient. The officer acts as a 911 dispatcher. They will alert the on-call BEMCo members to your call by setting off the member’s pagers and giving them information over the radio. On-call BEMCo members will then immediately respond to your location. Usually, there are 4 BEMCo members on duty at all times. Some members will respond in the BEMCo ambulances and others will come on foot. BEMCo’s average response time is usually under two minutes, so someone will be there to help you very quickly!
If I call BEMCo, will it be kept private? Who will know if I call BEMCo?
When you call BEMCo, the only people who know of your call will be the public safety dispatcher that you talk to, and the on-duty BEMCo members. Everyone adheres to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) which means that we will not share patient information. BEMCo members will never discuss patient information with anyone other than the other BEMCo members who are involved with that patient’s care.
If you later see a BEMCo member who responded to your call (in class, around campus, etc.) they will never acknowledge that they provided care for you or knew anything about your BEMCo call. Patient privacy is of the utmost importance to BEMCo. BEMCo members will also not discuss any patient information that is asked about by someone else (example: “Hey, my friend called BEMCo last night, did you take care of them?”).
Why are the BEMCo ambulances left on sometimes?
The BEMCo ambulances contain oxygen and medication that BEMCo uses to treat patients. The oxygen and medications are temperature sensitive, so the ambulances remain on when the temperature is below freezing to ensure the equipment and medication is kept at an optimal temperature.
If I call BEMCo, will it cost me money? What if an outside ambulance comes to my call?
BEMCo’s medical services are free of charge to all students, staff, faculty, and visitors to Brandeis’s campus. BEMCo does not charge for a medical assessment or any treatment given. If BEMCo and/or the patient determines that they need to go to a hospital for further medical care, an outside, transporting ambulance will be called (typically Armstrong Ambulance). The outside ambulance will come to campus and further assess the patient. If the patient is taken to the hospital, the patient and/or their insurance will be charged.
Depending on the medical situation, BEMCo may be able to arrange alternative transportation to the hospital. This may include an Uber or Lyft to the hospital. This service will be paid for by Brandeis Public Safety and the patient will not be charged. However, it is BEMCo’s decision when to offer this alternative, based on the medical situation. Patient safety is always BEMCo’s priority.
If I am intoxicated or call about someone who is intoxicated and I am worried about their health/safety, will we get in trouble?
Brandeis has a medical amnesty policy that applies to anyone who calls BEMCo for themselves or another person who has consumed alcohol or illicit substances. Please refer to the amnesty policy for more details.
Why do so many EMTs show up to a BEMCo call?
BEMCo is made up of crews of four EMTs, so we are always prepared to answer simultaneous calls across campus with at least two EMTs present (the legal requirement). This means we often have four people responding to a single call. If you ever feel overwhelmed by the amount of people on scene, do not hesitate to inform a BEMCo member and some people will step away so you feel more comfortable.
Why does BEMCo need to do an entire medical assessment if I know what type of care I need?
Because BEMCo operates under the same medical protocol and standards as an off-campus ambulance, EMTs are often legally required to perform a full medical assessment (including taking vital signs) during a call. This ensures that you are receiving the best possible care and allows the EMTs to determine if any other treatment is needed. You would receive the same type of assessment if you call any other ambulance.
Why do public safety officers come to BEMCo calls?
Brandeis public safety officers come to some BEMCo calls as a way to ensure the safety of the BEMCo EMTs and patients. Public safety officers will not be involved in any medical assessments.
Do BEMCo members get paid?
BEMCo is a volunteer organization! Members do not get paid for the shifts they take, but there are some other on-campus opportunities for BEMCo members to get paid.
Is everyone in BEMCo a pre-med student?
No! BEMCo is made up of members of all different majors and career interests. All members enjoy helping people and giving back to their campus community, but members interests, majors, and career goals vary. Many members are pre-med students as BEMCo offers a unique way to gain clinical experience.
Why did BEMCo ask me to sign paperwork after they took care of me?
If you are cared for by BEMCo and you and the EMTs determine that you do not need to go to the hospital, or you choose to refuse transport to the hospital, you will be asked to sign a refusal form. This means that you understand the risks associated with not going to the hospital or further care and you accept those risks.
Do not hesitate to ask the EMTs any questions about what you are signing during a call.
Why is BEMCo asking about my home address and insurance information?
BEMCo asks for this information for our own medical record keeping. You would be asked the same questions if you called an off campus ambulance. This information will not be shared with people outside of those who provided medical care during the call and will be stored in a secure medical records system.
Why should I call BEMCo? Why not just call a regular 911 ambulance?
BEMCo offers high-quality medical care and a faster response time than an off-campus ambulance. Since the Brandeis campus has unique building names, it can be difficult for an off-campus ambulance to locate the patient. Since BEMCo members are Brandeis students, they know the campus very well and will respond much faster than an off-campus ambulance (often in less than 2 minutes). This ensures that patients receive fast, high-quality care. BEMCo members are trained in the same medical protocol and have the same certifications as EMTs on an off-campus ambulance.
If you do call an off-campus ambulance, your call will be sent back to Brandeis public safety dispatch and BEMCo will be called. This may delay your call as it will need to be routed back to Brandeis. Calling BEMCo ensures the fastest response time and treatment.