The Georgetown Emergency Response
Medical Service, or GERMS as it is also known, is a
student-run, all-volunteer ambulance
service, serving Georgetown University and the local community, including the main campus
and the neighborhoods of West Georgetown, Burleith, and Foxhall, since 1982. GERMS provides year round, 24/7 medical
services, rapid response, treatment, and transport to hospitals in
GERMS ambulances are equipped to offer
basic life support services, including early defibrillation
via automated external
, with advanced life support assistance available
from Washington, D.C. Fire and EMS (DCFD).
Founding And Early History
, the Georgetown University Department of Emergency
was presented with a converted E-Z-GO
electric golf cart
serve as an EMS vehicle. This survival cart was operated under the
supervision of Robert W. “Hap“ Arnold of the Emergency Medical
Education Program and was used by medical students to staff
athletic activities. Building upon this, GERMS was founded in
by Mr. Arnold, Robert Doherty (College
'83, Medical '87), and a group of enthusiastic students.
interest in starting GERMS stemmed from serving in a unique
service, Explorer Post 53 - Emergency Medical Services, in his
high school in Darien, Connecticut.
At Georgetown, Doherty saw a great need for
faster emergency medical response on campus, especially so due to
the convenience of having a medical center located on campus.
Although the original proposal was submitted in November 1980, it
was not until the fall of 1982 that he was able to get the
necessary insurance to start GERMS.
Originally, the proposal was for a basic system of operation
consisting of two person duty crews carrying radio pagers to be
dispatched by GUPS (Georgetown University Protective Services) to
the scene of any medical emergency on campus. The crew members
would stabilize the patient and determine the appropriateness and
feasibility of transport in the survival cart. Each duty crew would
have one EMT
person with a minimum of Advanced First Aid and Basic Life Support
certification. In 1982 the Nursing School
debated and rejected the idea of establishing an EMT certification
course for undergraduate credit as it did not fit into the nursing
curriculum. The medical school and hospital, however, both agreed
to assist GERMS members in teaching the course, although they would
not be able to offer undergraduate credit. Since then, hundreds of
Georgetown students and members of the community have been trained
and certified as EMTs through GERMS.
The spring of 1983
brought GERMS a second-hand
ambulance (ironically, this vehicle first served as hearse, before
being converted to EMS use). Beginning 1983-09-01, with a
membership of 60 certified EMTs, GERMS began providing 24 hour
service to the Georgetown University Main Campus community.
are certified District of Columbia EMT-B's and most members are also nationally
Two ambulances transport patients to Georgetown
University Medical Center conveniently located on the University's
run entirely by undergraduate students of Georgetown
GERMS operations are governed by the
executives and the board of directors, while personnel matters are
handled by the crew chief council. GERMS operates under the
Department of Public Safety. Medical direction is provided by the
Georgetown University Medical Center's Emergency Department.
Currently, GERMS possesses two ambulances, the newest of which was
acquired in 2005
, one support vehicle, and
enjoys a membership of over one-hundred DC certified EMT-B's, the
large majority of whom are undergraduates. A crew of three is on
duty at all times, available by two-way radios and dispatched by
DoPS (Department of Public Safety). In addition to serving the Georgetown
University Main Campus Community, GERMS members also participate in
stand-by medical coverage for events at RFK Stadium and the
Mall - such as concerts,
athletic events, and the 2001 and 2005 Inaugurations of President Bush - at the request of the DC
Office of Emergency Health and Medical Services and DC
Notable Moments in GERMS History
- September 11, 2001
GERMS was on standby to serve the greater District of Columbia as
DC Fire and EMS was being diverted to respond to the Pentagon attacks.
- January 2004: GERMS staffed numerous units at the Presidential
- September 2005 GERMS manned the First Aid
Post for Hurricane Katrina
survivors who were temporarily housed at the D.C.
- October 2008: GERMS treated over 80 students in the course of
24 hours after an outbreak of Norovirus.