Great Bend High School student Walter Helms said his goal was to remain calm and perform his job in a pressure situation.
Students in nursing, law enforcement, EMS training and lab technicians learned valuable lessons in simulated exercises that portrayed authenic life-and-death situations Saturday at Barton Community College. More than 200 people participated as students, teachers, mentors and volunteers.
Saturday’s exercise meant learning exactly what emergency medical technicians do. EMTs are specifically trained to respond quickly to emergency situations regarding medical issues, traumatic injuries and accident scenes. Dozens of mentors provided feedback.
“The hands-on experience is really critical,” Helms said. “You have to know what a real-life event feels like. You can’t get that out of a classroom setting. It teaches you to think ahead and make sure you have all your equipment you need. You have to keep your mind set right.”
Emergency medical services students and others from related criminal justice and medical programs conducted drills and practice operational procedures in lifelike emergency scenarios. The EMS education program at Barton Community College is directed by Karyl White.
Students enrolled in Barton’s nursing, criminal justice and various medical specialties were tested by a variety of medical situations.
“The patients did an excellent job portraying what a real-life situation would feel like,” said Jennifer Cisneros, Russell County EMS director.
Helms’ final scenario involved a patient who sustained second- and third-degree burns after a flammable dissolver liquid caught on fire. The patient was in severe pain and extremely sensitive to any touching.
“The most important thing for an EMT is keeping your sanity and staying calm,” Helms said. “You have to know what you’re doing and how to do it. If you’re calm, it will keep your patient calm.”
His most stressful scenario was an accident, which claimed a life along with three other injured victims.
“I helped with a variety of patients because everybody was all over the place,” he said.
Helms became intrigued by the medical field at an early age, thanks to his grandmother, Juliana Alvarez, who worked as a psychiatric nurse in Panama.
“My ambition is to become a surgeon,” Helms said. “The most efficient way to get yourself into trauma work it to is go through an EMT program. I’ve always had a fascination and interest in helping people since I was young.”
Lindsay Alt works as an LPN for various Larned State Hospital programs and buildings. Most of her day-to-day work involves dealing with mental health issues rather than trauma. She would like to perform as an EMT sometime in the future in addition to her nursing duties.
“When we had our first code blue for a cardiac arrest, that’s what we got me interested in emergency management,” she said.
She enjoyed seeing Life Watch personnel explain what they do. She saw first-hand how a multi-trauma accident that seemed like chaos turns into a favorable outcome.
“It all came together. everyone knew what to do” she said. “I’m a pretty calm person, but I had a moment where it was exciting. I found myself talking louder and say ‘let’s ‘do something.’ All the mentors made a good experience pleasurable.”
Mike Merten and Loren Phillips, trained as EMTs, provided volunteer help as patients and witnesses. Merten said being on the patient end was enlightening.
“That experience definitely gave you an idea what it’s like to be a patient,” Merten said. “When you’re being moved and transported, you really think they’re going to drop you.”