group of people looking at wrecked vehicle

(ABILENE, Texas) – It was a team effort to treat 15 “patients” during a staged mass casualty training event on Texas State Technical College’s Abilene campus on Thursday, Dec. 7.

Students in TSTC’s Associate Degree in Nursing and Emergency Medical Services programs participated in an extrication day activity along with local first responders. The exercise allowed students to showcase what they have learned in labs as if it were a real-life situation.

The scenario was a three-vehicle accident, including a school bus, in which there were major and minor injuries, as well as two fatalities.

Chase Jarvis, the Emergency Medical Services director for the Fisher County Hospital District and a graduate of TSTC’s Emergency Medical Services EMT and Paramedic programs, said the scenario helped students see what would transpire in real time while on the scene of an accident.

“They were able to see the chaos that goes on with a mass casualty event,” Jarvis said. “They will be well prepared for this situation because of this activity. It is difficult to portray something like this in a classroom.”

The scenario turned into a real-world situation with Air Evac unable to participate due to an actual medical call. Randy Teague, chief pilot for 360 Aerial Services and former responder, said that played perfectly into the situation.

“Because the helicopter did not land will help because it is going to happen to you,” he said to the students. “Do not think twice about asking for a helicopter because the patients come first. We have services that can get to you.”

Teague offered the EMTs advice after watching them in action.

“Talk to your patients. They will be more comfortable hearing that you are talking to them,” he said.

Sam Jackson, a student in the Emergency Medical Services program, served as the incident commander for his classmates. He was not nervous about being the lead until the scenario began to unfold. But his instincts took over, and he was able to lead the team’s response.

“It was a very eye-opening experience,” he said. “After today, I know that I will not freeze on my first mass casualty event. I will have an idea of what will need to be done.”

Tim Scalley, TSTC’s statewide content matter expert for the Emergency Medical Services program, worked as the dispatcher and saw several positive aspects from the students.

“The response was quick and timely to treat the patients,” he said. “They put what we have taught them into practice.”

Wendy Proctor, interim director of the Associate Degree in Nursing program, said having her students involved will benefit them in the emergency room.

“It showed them what to expect in the hospital,” she said. “There will be no stopping (for breaks) when this type of event happens.”

Victoria Jones, an Associate Degree in Nursing student, said the hands-on experience is the best training opportunity.

“We usually watched this play out in the emergency room during clinicals,” she said. “To be able to put our critical-thinking skills into practice during an exercise like this takes our training to another level.”

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extrication 1 300x289 - TSTC health care students gain real-world experience during extrication day event
Benita Sparrow (right), a TSTC Associate Degree in Nursing student, helps a patient to the triage area during a mass casualty extrication exercise on Thursday, Dec. 7.
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