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Penn Alternative Response Unit (AR-1)

Penn Alternative Response Unit (AR-1)

Schedule: Wednesdays through Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Location: Penn Patrol Zone: between 30th Street and 43rd Street, and between Market Street and Baltimore Avenue.

The University of Pennsylvania has partnered with the Philadelphia Fire Department on an innovative public-private program designed to encourage Penn students to call for emergency medical help by removing disciplinary and financial barriers to access care.

Students with non-traumatic injuries — from sprained ankles to intoxication and other medical conditions — will receive high-quality care and hospital transportation in the PFD’s alternative response unit instead of an ambulance. The alternative unit is a marked SUV staffed by a paramedic lieutenant and an emergency medical technician. The AR-1 team works collaboratively with Penn’s student-run Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) and Penn Police officers.

“Penn has long had an amnesty policy to encourage students to seek medical treatment for themselves or their peers for intoxication, without fear of disciplinary action,” said Maureen Rush, VP for the university’s Division of Public Safety. “By eliminating the cost of the ambulance ride, Penn eliminates another obstacle to medical care, which may save a student’s life.”

Using the vehicle designated AR-1 to handle these types of calls also frees up ambulances to respond to more serious cases throughout the city. The PFD has 55 medic units that respond to about 800 EMS incidents every day in Philadelphia.

“The purpose of this partnership is to address low-acuity medical incidents of all types on the Penn campus,” said Fire Commissioner Adam K. Thiel. “So if a student rolls their ankle in an Ultimate Frisbee game, the ARU will respond, if available, to care for and transport that student so PFD can release an ambulance for other calls.”

AR-1 operates Wednesdays through Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. within the boundaries of the Penn Patrol zone: between 30th Street and 43rd Street, and between Market Street and Baltimore Avenue. AR-1 is also available for educational programming and response.


Q: How do I get in contact with the ARU if I need them to respond for me or a friend?

A: You can contact the ARU and MERT by:
Calling 215-573-3333 or 5-1-1 from any campus phone.
Picking up an Emergency Blue Light Phone in the Penn Patrol Zone.
Sending a Tip via the Penn Guardian App.
Requesting a transport from anyone at DPS, including Allied Officers.

Q: Who operates the ARU?

A: The ARU is operated by Philadelphia Fire Department medics and EMTs, in conjunction with Penn Public Safety and MERT, Penn’s student service of professional EMTs.

Q: Who pays for the ARU medical transport?

A: Penn will cover the cost of medical transports within the ARU program: Thursday through Saturday evenings, from 6 pm – 3 am within the Penn Patrol Zone (between 30th St. & 43rd St., and between Market St. & Baltimore Ave.).

Q: Does Medical Amnesty still apply to ARU transports?

A: Yes. Penn’s Medical Amnesty Policy applies to medical transports in the ARU pilot program. Students seeking help for themselves, or a friend, will not face Office of Student Conduct violations for alcohol or drug use. The Office of Alcohol & Other Drug Program Initiatives (AOD) will also continue to assist students who are struggling with drug or alcohol dependency after a related transport.

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4040 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

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