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NIU Department of Police and Public Safety earns national accolades

June 6, 2016
NIU Police Chief Tom Phillips

NIU Police Chief Tom Phillips

In an emergency, seconds count. That’s why it’s important that NIU’s Department of Police and Public Safety is close.

The National Collegiate Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Foundation recently recognized NIU’s police department with the EMS Ready Campus distinction for “embracing the challenges of EMS operations outside of traditional patient care activities.”

“We are the only one in the state of Illinois to earn the designation – which is in effect for three years – and only one of nine universities in the country to be recognized,” NIU Police Department Chief Thomas Phillips said.

Also earning the designation are Rowan University, Virginia Tech, Case Western Reserve University, Drexel University, St. Michael’s College, Syracuse University, Temple University and the University of Pittsburgh.

NIU police department paramedics operate through the Kishwaukee Hospital Emergency Medical Services (EMS) System, which is now part of Northwestern Medicine, and adhere to their protocols. In turn, Kishwaukee Hospital oversees the continuing education and certification of personnel and provides medical supplies needed when NIU paramedics respond to emergencies. The hospital recently provided the department with two trauma response bags designed to provide care during traumatic emergencies.

At least one paramedic is on every patrol shift, Phillips said, covering the campus 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Logo of the National Collegiate Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Foundation“The EMS program started in 2002,” Phillips said. “Since then, police officers have been cross-trained as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) with some being trained or hired as paramedics.”

NIU police officers who are paramedics have the same capabilities and equipment as a paramedic employed by a fire department, with the exception of having an ambulance to transport patients.

“Since our paramedics are also police officers, they enter the scene before it is secure then shift functions into paramedic mode if lifesaving measures are needed,” Phillips said. “NIU police paramedics communicate directly with the City of DeKalb Fire Department’s paramedics over a radio and advise the situation.”

Phillips said these advancements save “precious time in an emergency and have proven to save lives.”

In addition to being licensed by the Illinois Department of Public Health, this designation is further evidence of the excellence of this program and the commitment of the university to invest resources to provide emergency medical care to students, faculty, staff and visitors.

by Jane Donahue