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“You are called out to an ATV accident at Sand Lake for a young female who was the un-helmeted rider on an ATV that crashed into another ATV. Patient is complaining of left thigh pain and is a little confused.”

What do you do?

This scenario is just one example of what the Emergency Medical Services students at Tillamook Bay Community College (TBCC) faced at their simulation trainings on June 11.

In partnership with Adventist Health Tillamook, Nehalem Bay Fire & Rescue, Rockaway Beach Fire Rescue, and Nestucca Rural Fire Protection District, TBCC created scenarios with live actors for a hands-on-experience for their students.

“Under normal circumstances our EMS 106 class would participate in clinical and field rotations throughout the term,” said Brooke Bennett, TBCC Program Coordinator. “The requirements are one, eight hour shift in the ER for a clinical rotation; and two, 12 hour shifts on the ambulance for field rotations. COVID has prevented students from the opportunity to participate in these rotations.”

COVID impacted healthcare programs throughout the Country with delays in testing, labs, and clinical placements. The TBCC students were in jeopardy of not receiving hands-on experience before the term ended. TBCC worked with local partners to devise live simulations and alternate clinical experience, ultimately allowing students to complete the program.

At the training there were four stations, three with live patient scenarios and one in a moving ambulance. Jesse Walsh with Nehalem Bay Fire & Rescue provided a thorough demonstration of a high-fidelity mannequin.

“Practice and repetition is so critical,” said Todd Hesse Rockaway Beach Fire Chief. “Hands-on is one of the three main ways of learning. It prepares them for the field. It’s really important.”

Students entered the live patient scenarios by being read the circumstances of the settings. Broken legs. Chest pain. Respiratory distress. All ailments portrayed by live actors.

“Each of the (participating) partners brought staff members to serve as proctors and live patients,” Bennett said. “I had been researching the best way to conduct scenarios and every positive outcome shows the use of EMS professionals or Standardize Patients (people that are paid actors to act out a patient role)…I learned of the advantage of having EMS professionals to be able to lead students as the scenarios play out.”

Students were expected to verbalize and walk through how they would respond in each situation.

“You can get ready on some points on a mannequin, but to look and solve a problem by talking to your patient [makes a difference],” EMS student Casey Cannon said.

In the ambulance simulation, students were given an orientation of the equipment, medications, and expected to administer CPR in the back of a moving unit.

“They get a sense of the limitations by being in the back of the unit,” said Dr. Mark Bowman, Prehospital Physician Advisor at Adventist Health Tillamook and Medical Director for the Healthcare Programs at TBCC, who helped oversee the training.

Even in the midst of the COVID pandemic, students are still eager to join the emergency medicine field.

“These students are people who are driven and boots-on-the-ground type people,” Bennett said.

While the simulated event does not replace students’ cognitive exam and psychomotor exam in order to get their National Certification and State Licensing, it is an opportunity for students to get hands-on-training while waiting to resume their field rotations.

The three fire districts involved in the training have agreed to sign an Affiliation Agreement with TBCC to allow students to complete field rotation time on fire calls. Clinical and field rotations will resume with Adventist Health in July for which Adventist Health will also be paying for all students’ personal protective equipment during their time there.

“I am in awe of the way these community partners have stepped up in our time of need. We are so lucky to live in Tillamook County,” Bennett said. “I believe this will be an ongoing partnership between TBCC and our local fire districts and the opportunity to provide better training and education to all future first responders.”


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