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Wednesday, Dec 1, 2021

Letter to the Editor, in response to: “Student suffers near-critical medical emergency at Marriott Hotel without support from Public Safety

Dear Middlebury Campus Editors,

We are writing in response to a story published in The Middlebury Campus about the role of Public Safety in responding to emergencies on the Middlebury College campus, including student housing at the Courtyard Marriott, Inn on the Green and the Bread Loaf campus. 

This is an issue of the greatest importance: the health, welfare and safety of our students, and we felt compelled to respond because we are concerned that the story contributes to misconceptions about the role of Public Safety on campus, particularly in an emergency. 

We must note that the story, “Student suffers near-critical medical emergency at Marriott Hotel without support from Public Safety,” published on Nov. 4, 2021, contains factual inaccuracies. We are unable to provide specific information to correct these inaccuracies or omissions, in order to maintain student privacy and confidentiality — a responsibility we do not take lightly. Instead, we would like to take the opportunity to explain the role of Public Safety in an emergency.

Call 911 for Medical Emergencies

First and foremost, it is absolutely essential for students on and off campus, regardless of location, to call 911 in a medical emergency. This is the quickest and most expedient way to get medical help. Anyone who is unsure whether they are experiencing a medical emergency should err on the side of calling 911. On-campus locations this fall semester include the Courtyard Marriott, Inn on the Green and the Bread Loaf campus.

Medical emergencies include but are not limited to: difficulty breathing, choking, severe allergic reactions, broken bones, loss of or impaired consciousness, head or facial injuries, chest pains, uncontrolled bleeding, seizures or inability to walk due to injury or illness. 

Importantly, cost should never be the reason for declining emergency services or deciding against calling 911. The College supports students for whom medical costs, including ambulance transports, present a hardship, through our Emergency Medical Funds, which can be requested through Handshake. Anyone who has difficulty in paying for this service should contact DOS@middlebury.edu and we will work with them to make appropriate arrangements.

When to Call Public Safety

Public Safety staff are our on-campus responders for welfare checks, non-emergency safety concerns, noise disturbances, student lock-outs, and apparent policy violations. Officers also are available on a limited basis to provide non-emergency transportation to or from Porter Medical Center or the Center for Health and Wellness. Urgent situations and safety concerns must take priority over providing transportation services to individual students, and staffing levels at different times of the day or week may affect the ability of Public Safety to provide transportation services.  

Trust and personal responsibility are essential to our residential academic community of students, faculty, and staff. We ask that in interacting with our Public Safety officers, all members of our community do so in a way that shows mutual respect and understanding of their role as well as the role of emergency responders, such as police, fire, and ambulance crews. 

Thank you.

Smita Ruzicka
Vice President for Student Life

Mike Thomas
Vice President for Administration and Chief Risk Officer

Demitria Kirby
Director of Public Safety

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