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EMS students participate in hospital drill
Emergency Prep: EMS students take part in hospital drill
The group of EMS students walking through the hospital hallways looked like “The Walking Dead,” according to one witness.
It was no wonder, as the students were covered in blood, some had glass shards sticking out of their skin and others were covered in dirt.
Fortunately, none of it was real. The students were volunteering as victims for a surprise “Code Triage” drill at the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla. During the exercise they were able to witness medical personnel working in real time and they had fun exercising their acting chops.
Arriving early at the facility on Dec. 11, students were prepped with what medical issue they would present with and what their behavior should be to indicate that specific condition. They also sat to have make up done to make their medical issue look more real.
The scenario was a building collapse with a fire. Their injuries reflected the burns, cuts, respiratory issues and the shock and dirt that could result from such a catastrophe.
“We want them to do their jobs,” Kent Amsden, director of emergency management, told students of the emergency room staff before the drill began. “We want to make them analyze what they do.”
When the signal came, some students climbed on a stretcher and EMT volunteers pushed them into the nearby emergency room while others walked in on their own, escorted by an EMT.
From this point on, it was all hands on deck, as “patients” were triaged right at the door and the EMTs were directed where to bring them. Many “patients” went straight to the trauma room. Here physicians took over further assessing the patients, asking them questions, hooking them up to monitors and otherwise doing their best to stabilize them until it could be determined what the necessary next steps would be.
“Hold on, hold on,” the EMTs arriving with Kayla Lopez were told by a staff member at the entry to the emergency room. They were questioned as to what was the issue with this patient.
Kayla, a senior from Port Chester High School, had (fake) blood streaming out of her nose and appeared to have suffered a head trauma. She was initially alert until suddenly she had a (fake) seizure, catching the doctors by surprise.
In the next room, Jason Castro was covered in (fake) dirt and was having respiratory issues. He was bombarded with questions from hospital staff when he arrived via ambulance — How old are you? What is your name? Do you remember what happened?
“I was near the building, there was a big explosion and dirt came up,” Jason answered groggily.
Janice Rodriguez had two (fake) severe glass-filled gashes, one in each leg. The shards of glass remained in the wound when doctors sent her for a scan to find out how extensive the damage to her legs might be.
The drill lasted for about an hour. Afterward, students returned to the staging area where they had waited before the start of the drill.
“My heart was beating fast,” Janice said as doctors were examining her. “I was closing my eyes.”
Much to her relief, Kayla kept her composure the whole time she was receiving treatment. She had been worried about giggling throughout the exercise.
“I was just quiet the whole time,” she said.
The color had returned to Jason’s face after his ordeal, and the makeup had been wiped off.
“It was interesting,” he said of the experience. “It was fun because you could see all of them in real time, you were watching them work,” he said of the team of doctors.
Participating in the drill was a way for students to fulfill a service-learning activity, one of the requirements the Center for Career Services has for its students.
“It gives them an opportunity to network and work with industry professionals,” Garrett Jennings, work based learning coordinator, said. “They get an idea of what the real world is like.”
Career Services EMS students have participated in other similar drills at Westchester County Airport, Hanifah Muhammad, who teaches Emergency Medical Services, said. This was the first time students participated in a drill at a hospital. Ten students from her class were involved on this day.
Drills like this one help hospital administrators critique how their staff is doing.
Following the drill, students, emergency room staff, the EMTs and hospital administrators met for a debriefing.
Among the many comments made was how well the makeup was done and added to created a more realistic experience.
“The makeup was phenomenal,” Mr. Amsden said to applause.
“I think it went really well,” he said of the overall operation of the drill.
“Students in my school are training to become medical professionals,” Ms. Muhammad informed the staff. “Thank you for inviting them. Having medical staff interact with patients is perfect learning for them.”