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CURF undergraduate research symposium Credit: Melanie Lei

Penn’s Medical Emergency Response Team has just moved its headquarters to the Lower Quad, allowing for faster response times in emergency situations.

Founded in 2006, MERT is a student-run service organization that provides emergency medical services to the Penn community.

For the past four years, the organization has been operating from Sansom Place East — a dorm located on 36th and Chestnut streets.

The team’s headquarters used to consist solely of two small rooms — each approximately the size of a Hill House double — into which they fit all of the equipment necessary to save lives, according to MERT Chief and Wharton and Engineering junior Sourav Bose.

The two rooms contained seven bikes, four beds, two desks, a computer station and a television, Bose said.

“There was a point at which we had a bike in the shower,” he added. “There just wasn’t enough space.”

In addition to being an uncomfortable work environment, the location of the former headquarters lowered the team’s response times significantly, according to Bose.

The team, which travels via specially equipped EMS bicycles, had to go through a series of doors, staircases and gates just to get out onto the street.

With their new, ground-level, more centralized location, the team has cut its response time from 4.5 to four minutes — a crucial difference when it comes to saving lives, according to Bose.

Additionally, the team can now respond to local calls on foot, which is especially valuable to residents of the Quad, who use MERT’s services most often, Bose added.

The new headquarters are not only closer to emergencies, but they are also much more spacious — an entire hallway in the Quad — and the organization now has room for group meetings and training sessions.

“We used to only be able to fit three people in a room at once,” Bose said. “Now we can fit basically everybody.”

He added that MERT got lucky in acquiring this new location.

“Al Zuino [the associate director for Housing and Conference Services] told me that there’s a place in the bottom of the Quad that floods and has mold. I said: we’ll take it,” Bose said.

The members of MERT were responsible for the set up of the new headquarters. They cleaned up the mold, moved all the equipment from the old headquarters to the new, and set up offices in the five rooms.

A less visible, but equally pertinent result of the move is the newly rejuvenated morale of the team.

“People come here to hang out all the time now,” Anita Deshpande, administrative director of MERT and a College junior said. “We’ve become more of a family.”

According to Deshpande, members come to the headquarters to study, eat their meals, do homework and take naps.

The new headquarters went from being a UA proposal to a resolution to reality in just one semester, according to Bose, who is enthusiastic about MERT’s new home.

“We all enjoy coming down here,” he said.

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