A massive mock explosion left many people severely injured or worse in a northwest Ohio plastic lab on Nov. 22. Several local nursing and paramedic students were pressed into service, proving to themselves and others how much they had learned and what they could do under pressure.
The teams of three moved around the smoke-filled room to check on the status of several young people from the Four County Career Center who were injured in the blast. The chatter of emergency radios and vehicles added to the disorientating environment.
Some of the wounded didn’t make it.
Fortunately for all involved the scenario was just that, a contrived realistic set-up designed to test Northwest State Community College nursing and paramedic students on what to do in an emergency situation. The college runs a scenario every year for its students, changing up the scene or conditions to keep students sharp.
“It started off as a just an ER for our nursing students,” nursing professor Christine Higbie said. “But we wanted to get it more interdisciplinary, so we started working with Four County and their medic and EMT students.”
The scenes and scenarios change based on what the staff wants to teach that year, Higbie said. That’s how the honor students from the neighboring high school program were included this year.
There is always a debriefing to make sure everyone is clear on what the expectations, she said.
The career center students were involved in paramedic courses as well and many are planning on becoming EMTs after high school. They were made up to look like people who had been injured or extras from a zombie TV show.
The simulation help students acquire knowledge they need for their state boards to graduate as registered nurses, Higbie said. New rules require skills in disaster preparedness, bio-terrorism and other calamities, she said.
“This is one of the ways that we’re meeting those needs within the state, national and state board test,” Higbie said. “It’s been extremely successful. The students can practice in a safe environment.”
The students can learn skills and techniques that will help them in the real world when disaster strikes, Higbie said. This includes the commands and protocols at a hospital.
“Triage for RNs is a little different than paramedics, but it helps them get outside of what they have been used to as an RN,” Higbie said.
“Triage changes your role.”
By working together with paramedics, the nursing students get a chance to see how the other part of the patient care process operates and that builds understanding and teamwork, Higbie said. Dealing with the EMTs and paramedic students fosters mutual respect, she said.
“They know ‘the EMTs have already looked at this,” Higbie said. “It gives them a little bit better understanding of how a different healthcare discipline is interacting with our patient.”
At the Nov. 22 event, an administrator from Bryan Hospital observed the goings-on. The goal is to see how other healthcare facilities can be incorporated into the simulation and how the school can expand and improve its education of its students and make the simulation more realistic.
“Jen Behfield, our simulation coordinator, she is just phenomenal,” Higbie said. “I give her the idea and she makes it happen.”
Four County students who participated in the exercise included: Jasmine Haynas (multiple lacerations), Brooke Kolb (1st and 2nd degree burns), Quincy Rohda (progressive head injury), Nate Byrd (burns, CO poisoning), Hunter Ricketts (head wound), Spencer Lester (blunt chest trauma), Jason Meade (blind, facial burns), Nick Smith (broken leg), Kolton Myers (asthma attack), Cody Wihleler (impaled, dead), Cole Dietsch (pinned under object), Jarod Gaines (difficulty breathing) and Alisa Parsons (tinnitus).
James Pruitt may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org