Emerson privatizes ambulances

by Annika Hom / Beacon Correspondent • November 17, 2016

In an attempt to improve service speed, Emerson has employed a private ambulance service for on-campus medical emergencies.

Early this semester, the college switched from using Boston’s public emergency medical services to Armstrong Ambulance Service, a private Massachusetts emergency transportation company based in Arlington, Massachusetts.

Emerson College Police Department Deputy Chief Eric Schiazza said the switch will benefit the school because it should speed up response time for emergency transportation, although the department has yet to notice a significant difference.

Beyond this, Director for the Center of Health and Wellness Jane Powers said this change shouldn’t affect students.

Armstrong Ambulance Service, like Boston EMS, uses ambulances, licensed EMTs and paramedics to respond to emergencies. According to its website, Armstrong Ambulance uses 90 vehicles and employs more than 300 EMTs and paramedics at 11 locations across the state.

When students or faculty call ECPD or the Center of Health and Wellness for a medical emergency, those departments contact Armstrong Ambulance to respond, Schiazza said.

The college doesn’t pay for these emergency services, Director of Housing and Residence Life Erik Muurisepp said. Students are billed directly, Powers said, and the cost depends on each student’s insurance policy.

“All insurers have different rates at which they cover the cost associated with ambulance transport,” Powers said.

Powers said multiple Emerson departments involved with students’ well-being collaborated to make this decision. These departments include ECPD, Emerson Counseling and Advising Services, the Office of Housing and Residence Life, Student Affairs, and the Center for Health and Wellness.

Muurisepp said department heads decided to make the switch after meeting with Armstrong Ambulance this summer.

Muurisepp said the college will continue to use the service as long as it performs well.

“If it’s not working out—which it has—then we’ll stop using it,” Muurisepp said. “There’s no end date, as long as it’s working with the parties involved.”