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WHU First Responders Look Back on 20 Years of Service
WHU First Responder chairpersons Philippa Neßeler and Till Bierwirth together with treasurer Clara Sandstedt (from left to right) organize emergency assistance in the municipality of Vallendar on a voluntary basis.
11/27/2023

WHU First Responders Look Back on 20 Years of Service

The student-led group provides emergency services for the safety of the community in Vallendar—both on and off campus

The town of Vallendar, tucked between Bendorf and the larger city of Koblenz, does not have its own emergency medical service center. When a call comes in, it can take up to 15 minutes for an ambulance to arrive on the scene—a critical period during which a bad situation can become outright dangerous. This is where WHU First Responders e.V., a sizeable collective of volunteer students from WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, springs into action. To celebrate 20 years of their commitment to Vallendar, the current guard—led by chairpersons Philippa Neßeler and Till Bierwirth, alongside treasurer Clara Sandstedt (all BSc, 2025)—reunited with former members, current sponsors, and other supporters at the school’s atmospheric vaulted cellar on November 24, 2023.

WHU First Responders works in close cooperation with DRK Ortsverein Niederwerth to ensure the rapid provision of emergency medical services for the town’s residents, allowing the local paramedics more time to react. Whether they’re checking vitals, ensuring oxygen flow, or, in extreme cases, resuscitating someone, these students provide the town with a much-needed extra layer of security.

It was Michael Peters (D, 2006) and Hendrik Thörner (D, 2006) who first presented the idea of WHU First Responders to Professor Klaus Brockhoff, Dean of WHU at the time. With his support, the duo was able to build a strong foundation for the initiative—one that would endure longer than even they could have foreseen. After the school sharply pivoted away from the near-defunct German Diplom system to make way for its Bachelor’s and Master’s portfolio, the survival of WHU First Responders was, according to Professor Brockhoff, not guaranteed. Reunited at the celebration, the three all humorously expressed surprise that the organization has not only persisted through all these years, but has also evolved.

In those twenty years, WHU First Responders, much like its parent school, has changed with the times. Today, all members dedicate a substantial portion of their weekends at the start of the semester to completing multiple first aid classes and other medical trainings. This year’s comprehensive program even included a visit to the Bundeswehr Central Hospital in Koblenz. According to Lien-Huong Phong (BSc, 2025), that intensive training offers members a new perspective, whether they’re working a social event or merely attending one. “Even when I’m out just having fun, I can’t turn ‘it’ off,” she said, noting how their instruction has helped the team see the other side to the party.

In addition to offering emergency medical services, WHU First Responders routinely organizes blood drives on WHU’s Vallendar campus in collaboration with the German Red Cross. They also accompany local children on their traditional St. Martin Lantern Parade and render their services to events hosted by WHU’s other student clubs.

Click here to read more about their efforts.

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