Penn Public Safety: Policy on Medical Emergencies
To Members of the Penn Community:
The Division of Public Safety has been examining
the Penn police department's response to calls for service involving injuries
and/or illness for members of the Penn community, including students, faculty
Penn police officers are trained as "First Responders" by the
American Red Cross. Routinely, our officers respond to medical calls ranging
from minor medical cases, such as broken fingers, up to severe medical emergencies,
such as heart attacks, strokes, seizures, etc.
In order to provide the most effective medical response for our community
we recently engaged in discussions with the Philadelphia Fire Department
to ascertain what the proper role of the UPPD should be in medical emergencies
and to benchmark best practices regarding this issue among police agencies
across the country.
As a result, we have issued a new medical response policy within the UPPD.
We would like to share this policy with you and ask that you forward this
letter to members within your division. --T.M.S.
Emergency Medical Policy
It is the policy of the Division of Public Safety
(DPS) to treat all "Emergency Hospital Cases" calls as emergency
situations unless advised otherwise by a medically competent person. For
purposes of this policy all "Emergency Hospital Cases" are defined
as: heart attacks, chest pains, seizures, strokes, shock, overdoses (including
alcohol), diabetic emergencies, unconsciousness, poisoning, broken bones,
back or neck injuries, serious penetrating wounds such as gun shot or stab
wounds, choking or breathing difficulties, severe burns, severe bleeding,
women in labor, etc. In all of these types of cases the DPS dispatcher will
immediately notify the Philadelphia Fire Department's Rescue unit (medics).
UPPD officers will immediately respond to the medical
emergency and will, if appropriate, render first aid until the arrival of
the Fire department rescue unit. The UPPD will only transport medical emergencies
to the hospital upon the direction of the Fire Department rescue unit medical
Although it may appear to be more expedient for
the police to immediately transport a person experiencing a medical emergency
to the hospital prior to the arrival of the Fire Rescue personnel, it is
not the most effective response. It is far safer and more productive for
the "First Responder" (a Penn police officer) to, if possible,
stabilize the person at the scene and await the medics arrival. If the person's
condition should deteriorate in route to the hospital, the medics will have
the equipment and expertise to handle such an emergency.
Medical Escorts, i.e. follow up medical appointments,
minor cuts or abrasions, cold symptoms, etc. will continue to be transported
to the Student Health Department or HUP by Penn Transit.
Thank you for your assistance in communicating
this policy. If you desire any clarification on this policy, please feel
free to call me at 898-7515.
--Thomas M. Seamon,
Managing Director of Public Safety
Return to:Almanac, University of Pennsylvania, November
4, 1997, Volume 44, No. 11