Staff Editorial: Basic lifesaving skills are needed by campus leaders

In the wake of then-sophomore Arman Partamian's alcohol-related death in spring 2009, Geneseo has taken a heightened and concentrated interest in preventing tragedy.

Most notably, the college has launched the Red Watch Band program; its mission is "to provide students with the knowledge, awareness and skills to prevent toxic drinking deaths and to promote a culture of kindness, responsibility, compassion and respect." The program was launched nationally last year after originating at Stony Brook University.

Though this program focuses on situations arising from toxic drinking, all participants who complete the program become certified in CPR and the use of an AED, practical life-saving skills that can be applied to medical situations where seconds can make the difference between life and death.

Geneseo is fortunate to have the services of Geneseo First Response, a volunteer organization that provides round-the-clock emergency medical care to students, faculty, visitors and staff at the college. GFR's response times are impressive, but the more individuals who are trained in basic first aid skills, the quicker an injured person can receive assistance.

With this in mind, we charge the Office of Residence Life to strongly consider implementing the Red Watch Band program or a comparable course into the training that all resident assistants receive. Currently, RAs receive no formal medical training and are instructed to contact GFR or University Police when they deem medical assistance necessary. Traditionally, RAs at Geneseo are trained to direct students to resources available on campus but not to act on behalf of a student. Providing medical training to RAs would expand their role, but we think that life and death situations warrant the occasional departure from policy.

For many students, RAs are the first resource to turn to and are likely to be the nearest source of help in an emergency. While we would never advise any individual to intervene in a situation where he or she feels uncomfortable or incompetent, giving all RAs basic medical training gives them the option to, with the assistance of a dispatcher, take actions that could help save a life.

The responsibility to help one another does not start or end with RAs, though. All students, especially those in leadership positions, should take advantage of the free four-hour Red Watch Band course. More information about this valuable program is available at