About - History
In 1979, the Georgetown University Department of Emergency Medicine was presented with a converted E-Z-Go electric golf cart to 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 1982 by Mr. Arnold, Robert Doherty (College '83, Medical '87), and a group of enthusiastic students.
Doherty's interest in starting GERMS stemmed from serving in a unique emergency service, Explorer Post 53 - Emergency Medical Services, in his high school in Darien, CT. At Georgetown, Doherty saw a great need for faster emergency medical response on campus, given the convenience of having a medical center located on campus. Although the original proposal was submitted in November of 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 and one 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). On September 1, 1983, with a membership of 60 certified EMTs, GERMS began providing 24-hour service to the Georgetown University Main Campus community.
See an extended history on the timeline page.