McGill Student Emergency Response Team (M-SERT), formerly McGill First Aid, will initiate a referendum to increase its fee from $0.25 to $0.75 per semester for downtown campus’s full- and part-time students.
As discussed during last Thursday’s SSMU Legislative Council meeting, the motion seeks to increase the “Safety Network” fee in order to offset the service’s current costs and expand its coverage.
M-SERT is a student-run volunteer first-response service that provides emergency first aid to McGill’s downtown campus, residences, and the Montreal community. Registered under SSMU, M-SERT operates from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. with on-shift teams in the Molson and La Citadelle residences.
Regarding M-SERT’s fee affiliation with the Safety Network, SSMU VP Clubs and Services Allison Cooper explained that “McGill wants to limit the number of individual fees listed on students’ Minerva bills and as [the] M-SERT fee is already administered internally through SSMU… we made it an increase to the SSMU base fee instead.”
M-SERT is composed of 55 volunteers, including eight certified Red Cross instructors who offer first aid courses to the university community.
Currently, 60 per cent of M-SERT’s revenue is independently generated from first aid courses taught by the service’s Red Cross certified members throughout the academic year. M-SERT has received funding from other McGill entities in the past, but it has never received any funding directly from the University.
While M-SERT is able to provide operational first aid care to the university community, necessary expansions to M-SERT services have stretched the organization’s budget thin.
In an e-mail interview with The Daily, M-SERT President Ahan Ali and SSMU VP Finance Patrick Tohill wrote, “Our regular shifts have expanded from four upper residences and intramural hockey, to all of the Downtown Campus residences (except MORE houses), intramural hockey, and a steadily growing number of special events. Such expansion of our service requires us to stock more first aid supplies, replace more equipment, and eventually train more members which places a financial strain on our service.”
With any additional revenue, Ali and Tohill hope to reduce the financial burden of being an M-SERT volunteer. The organization currently subsidizes a large portion of the fees involved in the training of new recruits, but would like to explore expanding recruitment numbers, and be able to further subsidize the necessary training its members receive.
They added that, “for many of our members, [our hours of operation] mean going directly from class to their 12-hour overnight shift. We have proposed introducing a modest meal plan for responders on shift,” they said.
SSMU’s Notice of Motion from the September 27 Legislative Council meeting notes that “a vote in the negative will result in M-SERT continuing its operations at the current level of funding, with no change to the current SSMU base fee.”
M-SERT’s referendum date has not yet been set.