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June 12, 2014

Kan. college uses realistic scenarios to teach EMS students

The Hutchinson News

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — “Everything is real but the blood” will be the motto of an event this week at the Kansas State Fairgrounds.

Hutchinson residents may have seen an increase in traffic and heard constant sirens in the neighborhood because the EMS Education program at Hutchinson Community College is hosting the Paramedic Field Operations.

Kent Sallee, EMS logistics coordinator for HCC, said the event is attractive to EMS from other areas because of its unique feature – realistic scenarios.

“This gives (students) the chance to run back-to-back calls just like if they were an EMS,” Sallee said. “It’s unique to what we offer.”

Although the event is not mandatory, students from Cowley, Barton and Coffeyville community colleges joined current HCC paramedic students.

Students reacted as emergency responders throughout the fairgrounds for the simulated 911 calls, gaining real-life experience. There were 27 ambulances from Oklahoma and Kansas, including Junction City, Lawrence, Sedgwick County, Muskogee County (Oklahoma) and more.

The fairgrounds were set up like a miniature town with 14 different accident scenes and a mobile dispatch center, and students respond to eight to 10 calls per scene each day. Sallee said the dispatch center is usually at HCC’s South Campus, but could no longer be used due to communication issues. This is the first year the mobile dispatch center was used.

“This year, we had to become completely mobile,” Sallee said.

Each ambulance contained a driver, three paramedics and a mentor. The dispatch center would communicate with each ambulance to get them to respond to multiple 911 calls.

According to Sallee, this is the capstone to EMS education, where students put together everything they have learned, no matter where they are from.

“It’s an opportunity for those instructors to put the icing on the cake and give their students an opportunity they don’t have,” Sallee said.

The students were mixed together so they’d be working with different people, much like in the real EMS world, and they had to adhere to speed limits within the fairgrounds, Sallee said.

Renee Rempel, a paramedic student at HCC, said the field operations were overwhelming, but fun at the same time.

“You’re just kinda thrown in,” Rempel said. “This is a first-time experience. It’s been fun.”

Visible from 23rd Avenue, helicopters from LifeTeam and Eagle Med were “life-watching” patients to receive the care they need. After 29 years of experience in the field, Mike Johnson, director of program development for LifeTeam, said the program gives students a realistic view of what it’s like to be a paramedic.

“It’s just exposure,” Johnson said.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
During the Field Operations event, the fairgrounds will be closed to the public. The scenes also might include a car accident, chemical spill, childbirth and other types of situations, so residents should not be alarmed, because the paramedics are the real deal, but the blood is not.