Emergencies: Dial (207) 859 – 5911


Mission Statement

Colby Emergency Response (CER) was founded to provide the Colby College campus with exceptional and reliable emergency medical coverage twenty-four hours a day during the school term. The service is a volunteer first responder organization whose goal is to provide optimum patient care utilizing resources both on and off campus. CER aims to provide emergency care to patients as well as to transfer care in the most appropriate manner, whether it is to The Garrison-Foster Health Center, Delta Ambulance, Waterville Fire & EMS, or another medical facility. The organization shall also provide members with opportunities for obtaining continuing education as well as experience in the emergency medical field. It is the responsibility of the Officers and members to stay up-to-date with Maine and National EMS protocols, and apply them in such a manner that best suits the Colby College campus.

General Information

CER is a student-run organization of volunteer Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) working as an extension of the Garrison-Foster Health Center. As EMTs, the squad provides on-scene Basic Life Support (BLS) for medical emergencies within the Colby College community. CER is a non-transport, first-responder service that requires minimal licensing at the EMT level. Although all of CER’s members must maintain a Maine EMT certification or higher, CER is not a Maine EMS (MEMS) licensed service. CER operates under protocols provided by the Medical Director, Dr. Paul Berkner, and the Garrison-Foster Health Center. The Garrison-Foster Health Center also acts as Medical Control. Current protocols are modifications of the Maine State EMS protocols, with additional consideration given to ALS-intercepts and patient transport. When prudent, patients are transported to Maine General-Thayer Emergency Department in Waterville or transferred to Advanced Life Support (ALS) care—most often provided by Delta Ambulance and Waterville Fire/Rescue.

During the academic year, CER is available to members of the Colby College community twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Volunteer rescuers run twenty-four hour shifts on a per-diem basis. CER has two levels of rescuers: a Rescue-One – the senior rescuer on call who is the primary rescuer in charge of overseeing the scene, and the Rescue-Two – the junior rescuer on call. There is always a Rescue-One on duty when CER is in service. Additional rescuers may be placed in service for concerts and other special events that require additional personnel. While on duty, rescuers carry rescue-packs and radios, and have access to additional gear (including oxygen, suction, an OB kit, and another defibrillator) stored in the security vehicles. CER’s equipment inventory is based on the standard required of a Maine BLS first-response agency; however, the inventory has been modified to this service’s unique operations on a collegiate campus without an ambulance. CER is dispatched by Colby Security and works closely with their Officers; Officers respond simultaneously with CER and are always available to assist on scene.

In addition to providing emergency medical care, CER also serves as an on-campus resource for emergency medicine education. Some services provided include: Continuing Education Unit (CEU) opportunities, guest speakers, information about EMS-related classes offered in the area, and general information about EMS and EMS-related employment opportunities. American Heart Association CPR/BLS classes are also offered by CER periodically throughout the semester.


In 1978, a group of EMT-trained Colby students saw the need for a first-responder service on campus. Soon, these students founded Student Primary Emergency Care Service (SPECS). Cate Talbot Ashton recalls that Jim Elmore and Alice Domar were the founders; they took an EMT-B class with Waterville Fire Rescue. At first, SPECS had no formal communications system, and it was up to the Nurse on duty to call each EMT’s room, with the hopes that someone was there. In 1979, with assistance from Health Services, Security and Student Government, SPECS was given radio pagers, which aided communications. Keep in mind, that this was the era when 911 EMS services were beginning to start around the country; Colby was already ahead of the curve.

As the years progressed, so did SPECS. A Jan-Plan EMT course was offered soon after SPECS’ founding, and student interest in the EMS system grew. By 1985, SPECS boasted over a dozen members. As the 1980s progressed, the call volume began to pick up and instead of responding to a handful of incidents, SPECS members now responded to dozens of incidents each year. In 1988, SPECS’ name was changed to Colby Emergency Response (CER).

Over the next several years, CER expanded and changed the location of its squad room several times, from Dana to Roberts to its current location in the Garrison-Foster Health Center. CER saw some major calls in the 1990s, with students falling from windows, and a car accident on campus. As always, motivated and professional student-EMTs responded and helped to protect lives. CER now boasted a membership of over 25 rescuers.

With the new millennium came some major changes for CER. In 2003 the Health Center closed 24-hour care due to a national nursing shortage. Lacking applicable protocols when the Health Center closed, CER was forced to limit its operations to the hours when the Health Center was opened. Shortly thereafter, 24-hour care returned as did 24/7 service by CER.

In 2009, the College announced that the Health Center would be shutting down overnight care permanently due to a lack of available resources and limited use of the overnight services by students. CER was well prepared to fill this apparent gap and under the direction of the Medical Director of the College, CER continued to remain a 24/7 operation. A highly trained group of senior rescuers were charged as the primary caregivers to students when the Health Center was closed. If needed, these rescuers had the services of local hospitals, Delta Ambulance and the on-call practitioner to assist with calls beyond their level of care. As a result of these recent changes, CER’s relationship with these organizations has continued to thrive due to the high quality of care provided by CER’s Rescuers.
At the same time, with national concerns regarding EMS response times and scene safety coming to the spotlight, CER added another component to its relationship with Colby Security. On weekends, a senior rescuer would now ride with a security officer to provide care to students more quickly.In the coming years, CER will undoubtedly continue to grow and thrive, as it has since its inception in 1978.

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