HERO celebrates 20th anniversary on Hopkins campus


Courtesy of HERO Members of HERO perform service on a volunteer basis for no cost.

For The News-Letter

The Hopkins Emergency Response Organization (HERO) is a student-run organization of volunteer student Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) who service the University’s Homewood campus. HERO responds to calls from students who might need assistance because of binge drinking and determines whether individuals must go to the hospital.

Freshman Austin Dillow, a HERO member, described the organization’s process of reaching individuals who need medical attention.

“So HERO, they’re going to respond to any emergency that’s on campus which includes the Homewood campus and extends a couple blocks outward. We respond to any medical emergency by any Hopkins students or Hopkins affiliate,” Dillow said. “HERO responds to any situation in which you feel unsafe medically or that you think you need to go to hospital.”

Dillow explained what HERO members do once they are called.

“As an EMT, one of the things that you do is go through primary assessment, checking if the scene is safe: Am I wearing my personal protective equipment? You need to establish what additional resources you need,” Dillow said.

Dillow spoke about the specific responsibilities of EMTs as well.

“An EMT is basic life support so we’re focusing on keeping the airway clear, making sure that the person is breathing, if they are getting proper oxygenation, making sure they have a pulse, make sure they have good circulation, that’s really the basics,” Dillow said. “As an EMT, our scope of practice is pretty limited. The main job is to stabilize the patient and to get the patient to a higher level of care.”

Senior Tom Renner is the Operations Lieutenant for HERO and he further described some of HERO’s policies. He emphasized that HERO’s services are free for all patients.

“HERO is completely volunteer work and we provide our services for free,” Renner said. “If you are to be transported by HERO or evaluated by HERO there is zero cost to you.”

Renner also spoke about the new amnesty provision, part of the University’s updates to its alcohol and party policies, and how it is designed to increase students’ safety.

“In the past, [amnesty] was a gray area. However with this new drug and alcohol amnesty policy starting Jan. 4, there’s specific guidelines that you will see that protect the caller, the organization and the actual patient from getting in trouble with University,” Renner said. “One thing that we want to emphasize is that getting in trouble and getting help are not the same thing.”

Renner also stressed that this new provision is designed to encourage students to call for help when needed and not fear disciplinary action.

“To encourage students to immediately seek necessary medical attention or assistance for themselves or others in need, the University will not impose disciplinary action for a violation of student alcohol or drug policies against individual students or Recognized Student Groups/Organizations when they report to or seek assistance from the University or law enforcement for a medical emergency or condition, or against the student who is [the] subject of such medical emergency or condition,” the updated alcohol policy states.

Renner’s goal is to make sure that students are aware that HERO is a resource on campus to be used and that they are there to provide help.

“Just know that we’re here to help you out. We’re never here to get you in trouble,” Renner said. “When in doubt, call us out. We don’t want people like ‘Oh, did you need help?’ We’ll do a full evaluation on the person and help make a more educated decision on what to do whether they need additional help or not.”

Renner described the types of the cases that HERO has responded to.

“About 30 percent of our calls are alcohol-related. In general, next comes cases like soft issue injury, fractures, dislocations, allergic reactions and anxiety is a big one on campus as you can imagine,” Renner said. “So you name it, we respond to it. We’ve responded to attempted suicides unfortunately, dead people on arrival. It’s sad sometimes, but we all kind of accepted that when we took this position.”

Renner also explained the organization of the group.

“We usually range from 60-70 members and we respond to scenes with four people who are on duty at that time,” Renner said.

Renner also went over how applicants were chosen to be a part of HERO.

“Some of the members that we choose don’t have any medical background, so we are looking for people who show compassion. Basically, we are looking for the type of people you would want your mother to be treated by, somebody that you would trust,” Renner said.

Many members of HERO work on outside ambulances, fire departments and volunteer agencies. HERO also has training opportunities at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Renner said that HERO works closely with many administrators, including the Dean of Student Life, and is overseen by Campus Safety and Security.
Both Renner and Dillow spoke positively of their experience working on HERO.

“I enjoy working with the other EMTs on the unit to provide the best quality of care to our patients. The passion members of HERO have is truly amazing,” Renner wrote in an email to The News-Letter.

Dillow was already involved in an EMT organization before coming to Hopkins.

“I was already part of a volunteer rescue squad for about a year and a half… so naturally I wanted to continue doing that work, and HERO is a great opportunity to be able to help out the people on campus,” Dillow said.

Students have a positive view of HERO’s work on campus.

“They’re putting a lot of time and commitment into it, but I hope I’ll never have to require their services,” freshman Lalit Varada said.

Freshman Harsh Wadhwa praised the individuals willing to help peers who need medical attention.

“I think it’s fantastic to know that there’s a group of students on campus willing to devote their time to [assisting] other students in need, especially in this capacity,” he said.


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