During final exams week, many Mt. San Jacinto College students feel as if their lives depend on doing well. Students in the Emergency Medical Technician training program took that experience to the next level as they were tested on how they would handle a medical emergency.
Instructors for the program constructed a scenario that simulated the aftermath of an explosion.
“It is supposed to be a science lab experiment that went bad,” said instructor Matthew Johnson. Members of his family and their friends willingly portrayed “victims” so when EMT students arrived on scene they could apply the skills they have learned in the classroom all semester.
Students were dispatched in teams to a classroom where four mannequins were staged as people in various degrees of distress. Two mannequins were meant to be deceased upon arrival and two others are simulation mannequins that allow EMTs to check vital signs and perform CPR.
Instructor Matthew Johnson also works at Menifee Valley Medical Center in the emergency room and helps students relate to real world emergencies.
“This scenario is to simulate multiple casualties,” he said. “Up until now the students have been treating primarily one patient at a time. We do this at the end of their training to humble them a little bit and to drive them to learn more.”
MSJC’s Emergency Medical Technician I course is a one semester basic training that teaches students how to use clinical reasoning when verbalizing and demonstrating proper techniques.
They also learn how to demonstrate professional behavior and respect for all patients, coworkers, bystanders and assisting agencies in the performance of their duties. That was also put to the test as they worked together as a team with advanced EMT students and paramedics who also help instruct the classes.
“We stay up on what the students need to know – we teach them the standards,” said Chuck Benson, paramedic instructor.
“They learn a set of skills set up by the National Registry.”
Students are required to take clinical and written tests with a passing grade of at least 80 percen tin order to be certified.
Chester Ryzewski, an EMT student about eight years ago, is now a paramedic.
“I started here at 18,” he said. He became a sheriff’s deputy in San Diego but soon missed this line of work and put himself through paramedic school. He now works alongside Norris at American Medical Response.
Program coordinator Art Durbin said there are many success stories.
“We have doctors, physician assistants and others that have been through our course,” he said.
He said interactive testing like the simulated accident give students a touch of reality. Their performance accounted for about 10 percent of their grade.
Johnson prepared approximately 18 students by dividing them into groups with one in charge of starting triage.
“Any multi-casualty incident is about dividing up the resources – you can’t save everybody,” he told the students before the drill began.
EMT student Julie Carranza, center, works with emergency response personnel during a simulated explosion