TSTC Emergency Medical Services student Joel Dacancy (left) helps Holley Carter, acting as a patient, during an Extrication Day event for EMT students on April 27. The students responded to a staged mass-casualty situation with the aid of first responders from Callahan and Taylor counties.

(ABILENE, Texas) – Eight people were transported to Abilene area hospitals on April 27 as a result of a two-vehicle accident near the Texas State Technical College campus on Quantum Loop in Abilene.

The good news is that it was only a staged exercise for TSTC’s Emergency Medical Services students to work with first responders from Callahan and Taylor counties during an Extrication Day event. 

For the students, it was a chance to gain experience with professionals in the field and see what happens at a real mass-casualty accident scene.

“This gave me a lot of visual experience,” said Emily Durgin, a first-semester student. “The communication was great among everyone. This will help me when I have to respond to my first accident in the field. I do not think I will be as nervous.”

Lori Olvera, also a first-semester student, said the exercise provided her with a higher sense of focus.

“It was good to be outside and working hands-on with patients,” she said. “We had to focus on what we needed to do because everybody else was busy helping patients.”

Ray Browning, who graduated from the EMT program this month, was the incident commander for his fellow students.

“It was chaotic, but I was very impressed with the students and their ability to identify the priorities of the patients,” he said. “I learned that you really have to know the resources you have available.”

Lt. Taylor Durham, with the Abilene Fire Department, said the training offered students a look at their future as an EMT.

“This gives the students a glimpse of what we get to do with these individuals interested in the field and broadens their mindsets on how all of this works together,” said Lt. Taylor Durham of the Abilene Fire Department.

Bryce Channell, an arson investigator with the Abilene Fire Department and a 2013 TSTC graduate, said it was good to see students putting what they have learned to use in a live training session.

“This gives students the confidence that they need to be professionals out in the field,” he said.

Kandell Scruggs, TSTC’s lead Emergency Medical Services instructor, said more Extrication Day events will be held with local first responders.

“(First responders)love being part of it and being part of what normally happens in the EMS world,” she said. “They get to really be part of the situation and feel like they are growing the next generation of EMTs.”

Browning said it offered students an opportunity to impress potential employers.

“For some students it was like a job interview,” he said. “The local agencies are watching and evaluating on their own what students have learned.”

Andy Weaver, provost of TSTC in West Texas, said it was important for students to participate in the exercise.

“This is the culmination of putting a lot of skills they learned in caregiving into practice,” he said. “They were immersed into a place where this is not a drill. It feels real to them.”

According to onetonline.org, the need for emergency medical technicians in Texas was expected to grow 19% between 2020 and 2030.

In its Emergency Medical Services program, TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Paramedic, as well as certificates of completion in Emergency Medical Services – EMT, Emergency Medical Services – Advanced EMT AEMT and Emergency Medical Services – Paramedic. Additionally, the college offers an occupational skills achievement award in Emergency Medical Services. The program is available at the Abilene, Brownwood and Harlingen campuses.

For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

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