Meningitis Now staff member Clara Wiggins

Meningitis awareness at UCLan saves student's life

Clara Wiggins | 19th February 2020

We have welcomed news that quick action at one of the universities we are working with on meningitis awareness probably saved the life of one of their students

Meningitis aware university UCLan saves student life

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) was one of the first universities in the country to sign up to our Meningitis Awareness Recognition Mark – also known as MARM. To gain the recognition mark, universities and other higher education providers need to complete a checklist which indicates they are prepared for a case of meningitis on their campus. 

This preparation was what UCLan’s Director of Student Services Lisa Banks said helped them save the student’s life.

The story started late last year when a family from the North East were trying to contact their daughter, who was based at the university’s Preston campus. When she didn’t reply to her text messages, they contacted the university’s out-of-hours safety and security team.

“The team is trained in things like suicide awareness and other wellbeing issues and are fully integrated into Student Services,” said Lisa.

“The team went to the private accommodation where the student lived to do a welfare check, but there was no response. As we have excellent working relationships with the local Private Halls Providers, they assisted us in accessing the flat and found the student collapsed on the floor. 

“The team called the paramedics immediately, who diagnosed her with suspected bacterial meningitis – and also told our team that she would probably have died if they hadn’t got to her so quickly, saying she was in a really bad state.”

Learn the signs and symptoms

The student was taken to hospital and remained there for two months, but is expected to make a full recovery. In the meantime, the university had contacted Public Health England (PHE) who activated their plan to ensure everyone close to the student was contacted and if necessary treated with antibiotics. UCLan also sent out a warning to all their students. 

“We were one of the first universities to sign up to the MARM scheme when it started and now we do lots to raise awareness about meningitis,” said Lisa.

“This includes talking about the disease at open days and telling students to learn the signs and symptoms, even those who don’t end up coming to the university.

“But most of all we make sure we are well prepared for a case of meningitis if and when it occurs on the campus – and in this case I really do believe this is what helped saved this student’s life.

“We were prepared and we were ready to respond quickly, confidently, and appropriately. Being signed up to MARM almost certainly did save the life of one of our students”.

Heartening

Kelly Archer, who runs our MARM scheme, said how heartening it was to hear this success story.

“We all know how quickly meningitis can strike and how devastating it can be – and we also know that students are one of the most at-risk groups in the country,” she said.

“This is one of the reasons why we developed the MARM scheme, to make sure universities and other higher education providers can be ready for when the inevitable sadly happens.

“We are always hopeful that the measures we suggest universities put into place actually work in the way we would like them to – and here is a great example of how it really did!

“Thank you Lisa for telling us about your experience of MARM and how it helped UCLan in this emergency, and well done to all involved for acting so promptly.

“We all wish the student well and hope she is recovering from her experience.”

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