Mock disaster scene at Douglass gives EMT students real-life practice
For EMT students poised for their final exam, the extensive mock accident in the parking lot of Frederick Douglass High School provided quite the real-life scenario to test their skills and their nerves.
“I got in the mindset of trying to save as many patients as I could without getting freaked out. Having to carry and move and treat, there’s a lot of factors that go into it,” sophomore Grace Phelps said after the two-hour exercise.
Students in the school’s Academy of Health Sciences served as first responders while others played the role of bloodied victims after a small plane making an emergency landing crashed into a bus. Gray smoke rolled from underneath the wreckage, adding to the chaotic scene as the EMT students hurried to evacuate the passengers to a safe distance.
Jonae Coffman, a senior who aspires to be a nurse practitioner, appreciated the practice run. “It was so crazy and it all happened at once, but I’ve studied and been through the class so I didn’t panic,” she said after sporting a fake burn on her right cheek and open fracture of her tibia.
Teacher Jeremy Miller had divided the students into three groups, distinguished by colored vests. Some triaged the victims and marked them with tags based on their condition and need of care. Others – armed with basic medical supplies – bandaged wounds, tied tourniquets, and applied makeshift splints.
Miller, who is also a paramedic, predicted the event would be authentic but manageable for the four dozen students in Douglass’ emergency medical technician program. “It’s overwhelming but not so much that they can’t conquer it,” he said, adding, “These are scenarios that as a paramedic we run on a regular basis to keep ourselves prepared.”
The exercise prompted the students to react quickly, work together, and use critical-thinking skills, harkening back to what they absorbed in Miller’s class. “I want them feeling like ‘Hey, I can do it.’ It’s a learning experience,” he said. “I hope they gain confidence that what they’ve learned they can put into action. They can rely on what they’ve learned to help somebody.”
Douglass is one of three high schools in The Academies of Lexington, a partnership among Fayette County Public Schools, students, families, educators, businesses, and community supporters. Among those helping with the April 19 mock disaster were the Lexington Fire Department, Roberts Towing, Blue Grass Airport, Steve Morris with Eagles Eye Photography, Mediport LLC, and Georgetown/Scott County EMS.
“As EMTs, they’ll walk into situations not knowing what to expect. This will allow students to experience the shock of the job and overcome that shock to provide treatment. It’ll give them the most honest, first-hand experience they’re ever going to have,” Douglass academy coach Shawn Hinds said beforehand. “This event is exactly what we’re looking to replicate across all the academy schools – providing students with first-hand practice and giving them real-world experiences. It’s what connects learning to life.”