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A few hours after the weekend ended and our tired bodies were flinged/flang/flung out, curious friends pelted us with the same question: “What’s Fling like for MERT?” Our answer to this question is always the same: “organized chaos.” But also, as far as our positions are concerned, “you have no idea.”

It’s no rumor that Fling weekend is the Medical Emergency Response Team’s busiest. So what does it really take to be on MERT during Fling?

As the Chief and Captain of MERT, our past few months have been dedicated to preparing the medical side of Spring Fling. Since February, we have worked tirelessly — getting our bikes into shape, touring the space for our concert observation area (OA), training our members and ordering extra equipment (especially extra eyewash because, you know, “throw some glitter, make it rain”).

Then came April ... the 17-day “hell week” for all organizations involved in Fling operations.

On Thursday of Fling, our preparations were put to the test. After checking over lists of everything we would need, we realized this would be our one opportunity to celebrate the weekend before our continuous shifts began. But Friday morning came quickly. At 10 a.m., the two of us met in the MERT squad room and mentally prepared ourselves. Both of us, and MERT’s Lieutenant Neville Dusaj, would be MERT Command for the duration of the day. As Command, we were responsible for managing all MERT operations. This required staying in radio contact with Penn Police, FlingSafe and our members.

The mood became more serious as we shifted our operations toward the concert. We would be splitting up: Sara at the unified command station as sole MERT Command, Victoria and Neville heading operations in our concert OA — an area where patients can be monitored over time.

Duties at the unified command station, a small table at the end of the concourse, began immediately upon entering Franklin Field. We hadn’t even been given chairs before an all-too-familiar “radio to MERT Command” came across the radio and demanded attention. With a “MERT received and responding,” two of our 18 members in service for the night were dispatched. The heads of security soon joined the table. There was time to exchange quick introductions before two more calls came in: one through the MERT radio, the other through security’s radio. The rest of the night involved alternating between receiving calls, dispatching emergency medical technicians and taking the occasional breath of air to step into the stands and hear a few seconds of the concert.

Manning the OA didn’t provide the same opportunity to enjoy Kesha’s riveting performance, as our first patient staggered in while our EMTs finished setting up and briefing. Within a minute, we quickly assessed the medical priority of the patient and sent them to the appropriate treatment area. Everyone snapped to action, ready to use their training to help their fellow students. As soon as the first patient was comfortably settled, two more arrived in wheelchairs and the night began at a running start. Whether it was an alcohol emergency, drug overdose, physical injury or panic attack, our members remained confident and calm. For four hours, patients streamed in — ­ sometimes three entered at once, other times none arrived for a while. To the right of the room were the higher priority patients, some with IVs placed in their arms and a reassuring EMT at their side. On the left were the less medically urgent patients, many of them becoming friends with each other as they received treatment, some patients even exchanging phone numbers.

As we discharged our last patient from the OA, Friday night finally came to an end. Fling is an exhausting, but rewarding experience. We hope we were helpful and respectful to our fellow students, and we’re appreciative that we can provide this service.

None of the success of Fling weekend would be possible without the Division of Public Safety, Vice Provost for University Life, Student Health Services, Social Planning and Events Committee, Office of Alcohol and Other Drugs, Office of Risk Management and MERT’s Medical Director Dr. Alvin Wang. Thank you for your endless support and guidance.

SARA JONES and VICTORIA PEREIRA are College juniors from New Jersey studying BBB and English respectively. Sara’s email address is Victoria’s email address is

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