Commentary | Hyde Park: Admin to McGill First Aid: not in our name

You may have heard that the University administration is trying to control whether SSMU clubs and services can use the word “McGill” in their names. McGill claims that they don’t want people to confuse student-run groups with the University itself. Students, it seems, are not actually part of McGill. Silly us.

As Director of McGill First Aid Service (MFAS), I know that student use of the McGill name has been a concern for a while now. There are, however, some aspects of this issue that really get me going. One administrator, who shall remain nameless, has said that she didn’t want people to confuse MFAS with paramedics, or people with actual training.

To straighten this out: MFAS runs at a First Responder level. On every shift, we have at least one Canadian First Responder, trained by the Canadian Red Cross. Moreover, the minimum amount of training necessary to be on shift is Canadian Red Cross Standard First Aid and CPR-C. As far as training goes, I’d say we’re good. In fact, MFAS is better-trained than McGill Security, medically speaking.

Now, I know exactly what the administration is thinking, and it’s the same excuse they’ve been using for years: liability. I’d like to put this to rest. Since we are a 100 per cent volunteer organization, trained to give the care that we do, we can’t be sued. According to the Civil Code of Quebec, Part 1471: “Where a person comes to the assistance of another person or, for an unselfish motive, disposes, free of charge, of property for the benefit of another person, he is exempt from all liability for injury that may result from it, unless the injury is due to his intentional or gross fault.” Period. End of story.

It’s true that there’s always a possibility a volunteer will make a mistake. That is why MFAS has four-hour monthly training sessions where we review skills and treatments, as well as do monthly evaluations. Those who don’t pass their evaluations are taken off shift immediately until they pass that evaluation. McGill, we’re with you on this one, and we don’t want anyone messing up either. However, in a worst-case scenario, we’re all protected as volunteers. Moreover, SSMU is insured and, according to their Memorandum of Agreement with McGill, indemnify the University from any and all liability.

McGill, we at MFAS feel offended you don’t trust us. I can’t tell you how many parents and students alike have come up to me at events like Discover McGill, residence move-in days, and so on, and thanked me for being there “just in case.” I feel personally insulted that you are giving MFAS and other groups such a difficult time trying to be a part of the McGill community. McGill has a motto, “Grandescunt aucta labore” – “By work, all things increase and grow.” Why won’t McGill stand behind this? No matter how much I, or anyone else, work to put this issue to rest, the only thing growing is my disrespect for a University community that actively excludes students. My question is this: if the tens of thousands of students (and their parents) we care for trust MFAS every day with their lives, why don’t you trust us with a name?

Mark Abrams is the Director of the McGill First Aid Service.


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