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MERT new chair Q&A Credit: Yolanda Chen , Yolanda Chen

Radioing to the dispatcher, checking equipment, charting calls, speaking to the incoming freshman during New Student Orientation and regularly running meetings — these are just some of the many duties of new Medical Emergency Response Team Chief Grace Kunas, a College junior.

Kunas was recently elected chief of MERT, an organization which has around 70 active members, is in operation from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. seven days a week and requires each of its members to perform a minimum of 24 hours of service every month. MERT works directly with a number of groups on campus, including the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, the University administration and the Division of Public Safety.

Related: MERT trains responders for mass casualties

The Daily Pennsylvanian sat down with Kunas to talk about her goals for MERT this year.

The Daily Pennsylvanian: Why did you decide to run for chief?

Grace Kunas: I decided to run because it gave me an opportunity to form relations outside the organization. I was the operations lieutenant last year, so it was more focused internally. I’m more directly involved in clinical advancement, reviewing every call that MERT receives and quality assurance. [Being] chief gives me the opportunity to be involved externally and meet the Penn administration.

DP: What are your goals for the upcoming year?

GK: Last year one of our goals was to promote outreach with other organizations, and this is something I want to continue. I want to continue building a relationship with the Philadelphia Fire Department, which oversees … [the] transporting [of] our patients. I also want to have a speaker series and partner with other groups such as Penn Undergraduate Health Coalition.

Related: MERT survey reports many don’t know how to contact them

DP: What would you want to improve within the organization itself?

GK: I want to get the general body more involved beyond just taking shifts. We’re going to establish committees to help disseminate to the general body and have space for general body members to take the initiatives they have and do what they want to do with them.

DP: Based on the recent survey [conducted by MERT, which showed that many students don’t know how to contact MERT], what are you going to do to improve awareness regarding MERT on campus?

GK: One of our board members has done a poster campaign, so we want to revitalize that to get our number and name out there. We [are] also developing an app that would help people reach MERT faster and easier. We also have a board member dedicated to maintaining our new social media.

Related: MERT recognized as licensed Pennsylvania agency

DP: What’s your favorite part of being on MERT?

GK: I would say the people. It’s definitely my second family, and my best friends were made in MERT. The learning experience from being involved in such a professional organization is amazing, but it’s all student-run and you are completely independent. We operate so professionally sometimes that you forget it’s a group of college age students. Being part of a growing organization in general is really exciting and seeing the results of what you’re doing directly is very rewarding.

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