Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MSc)


Kinesiology and Physical Education


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr. R. MacPhee

Advisor Role


Second Advisor

Dr. D. Guthrie

Advisor Role


Third Advisor

Dr. M. Eys

Advisor Role



Anecdotal evidence suggests that university students are accessing local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) more frequently, usually as a result of alcohol consumption. In doing so, they endanger their personal health and create challenges for EMS and local hospitals. This study examined EMS use by young adults (ages 16-24 years) to identify differences between university students and youth in the Region of Waterloo, and to determine predictors of transport to hospital. This cross-sectional study used retrospective data collected during a six-year period (2006-2011) from a large, mixed urban and rural municipal ambulance service located in southwestern Ontario. Data were extracted from electronic ambulance call reports completed by paramedics responding to 9-1-1 calls. Individuals accessing EMS within the university zone were compared with those outside this area on demographics, patient presentation, pick-up locations, transport status, and

9-1-1 call generation characteristics. Given the large sample size (N = 16,577), and the probability of a type I error, we determined statistical significance based on a 20% change in the odds ratio (i.e., OR of 1.20). Among university students, across years, the number of calls that involved alcohol rose from 29% to 38%. Based on the OR, university students, compared with other young adults, were 2.6 times more likely to call EMS with alcohol as a contributing factor, 1.3 times more likely to be assigned a low priority by paramedics, and 1.4 times more likely to refuse transport. They were 1.9 times more likely to be picked up in a bar and 1.8 times more likely to call 9-1-1 at night. Using logistic regression, significant predictors of transport to the hospital (yes/no) were: a scene time less than 20 minutes; advanced life support (ALS) care provided; pick-up at a school; and day of the week. These findings suggest that there has been an increase in alcohol-related EMS calls by Region of Waterloo university students. EMS services need to be aware of these factors when developing deployment strategies. Further, there is a need to coordinate with university administrators in order to develop strategies to optimize the care of students who have been using alcohol, particularly those who refuse transport to hospital.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season