EMS Practice Sessions

EMS students kept on their toes during weekly training exercises

The EMS classroom at Southern Westchester BOCES turns into a mock-triage center once a week when teacher Robert Del Greco surprises his classes with a hands-on test of their skills. 

As students learned how to treat soft tissue injuries, they were confronted with two hypothetical situations — a gunshot wound to the chest and a victim who had intestines protruding from an abdominal wound. 

 “These exercises put you on the spot,” said Conrad Huang, also a senior at NRHS. Conrad hopes to become a firefighter and saw benefit in EMS training. “You are going to have to get used to that.” 

New Rochelle High School senior Jenifer Lopez agreed the exercises are beneficial. She said they help aspiring EMS technicians like herself be prepared for any emergency situation they may encounter.

In the first hypothetical scenario, the gunshot wound victim was suffering from an open chest wound. Students acting as First Responders contended with how the victim can cause blood to gush based on their inhale and exhale. Students were entrusted with placing an inclusive dressing on the victim, which created an airtight seal and stopped them from losing blood. The students also checked the victim’s vital signs and the gunshot’s exit wound if there was one. 

Students were introduced to a special type of gauze that has petroleum jelly on it. The material comes in a sealed package. To treat the gunshot wound, patients learned that they can toss the petroleum jelly-soaked gauze away and just use the package to seal up the wound with medical tape, leaving one corner un-taped so that the material does not stick to the wound. 

In the second scenario, students were confronted with a hypothetical motor vehicle accident. The victim had been thrown from their vehicle, causing a slit in their lower abdomen that made their intestines protrude. This is known as an evisceration wound. 

“This is not a ‘kill me quick’ type of wound,” Mr. Del Greco explained, adding that the student EMS’ would be responsible for ascertaining if the victim had sustained any other injuries. They needed to check if the victim’s airways were open and if their breathing and circulation were normal. 

In this instance, in order to prepare the victim for hospital transport, the students had to package the wound. This means placing a large bandage loosely over the impacted area and taping it to the victim’s skin. The purpose is to prevent any dirt or germs from affecting it. The first step was to moisten a sterile bandage before placing it over the wound. 

“Resist the urge to clean off the intestines,” Mr. Del Greco instructed. “Leave it to the surgeons.” 

He added that the use of a common household item is an option. Once the dressing has been placed, they can cover it with aluminum foil. 

Earlier in the class, Mr. Del Greco explained the different types of wounds and divided students into two groups. Each participant took turns dressing different injuries. 

“This helps make it more visual,” Mr. Del Greco said as the students practiced on two dummies set up with different wounds. “It makes it more real.” 

To make the gunshot wound even more realistic, the dummy was equipped with a hidden pump that caused fake blood to spurt out. The other hypothetical victim had its fake intestines protruding. 

These exercises also helped to reinforce concepts and treatments that the students had learned previously. 

“In EMS, there is a lot of repetition,” Mr. Del Greco said. “We always talk about what step we are on: the A, B, Cs — airway, breathing and circulation.” 

Mr. Del Greco is a member of the Valhalla Volunteer Ambulance Corps and offers his own experience to help students learn. “It doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to work,” is often what he tells his students about caring for a patient. The important work that the students are learning will help to stabilize a patient so that the patient can receive the necessary medical care for a good outcome. 

“We are learning and practicing at the same time,” said Virginia Francisco, a senior at NRHS, after she took a turn practicing on each of the dummies.