A man shot his wife after setting fire to their apartment with their child left inside and another having jumped off a balcony. But no one was actually harmed. This scene of domestic violence was all part of a training simulation at the College of DuPage’s Homeland Security Education Center.
“You see a lot of domestic violence in the news so we wanted to take a domestic violence, real life scenario where patients could be transported and treated,” said Tom Brady, Associate Dean of the Homeland Security Training Institute at the college.
As the events unfolded, paramedics and fire fighters in training, along with actual police officers, had to demonstrate on-the-job skills, like providing oxygen, checking vitals, and transporting the victims while keeping them calm.
“If they get nervous [or] if they get anxious, their vitals will change,” said Simulation Technician Jaime Lemens. “That’s all a physiological response to stress and so if they can keep the patients calm, they can keep the vitals relatively at bay.”
Lemens helped coordinate the simulation and also played the role of the wife. She says having a living, breathing victim offers those in training a more authentic opportunity to than just practicing on a mannequin.
“The students are much more compassionate, much more aware of what the patient needs and what the patient wants, especially when there’s emotion behind it, they become much more concerned, rather than talking to some stiff dummy, some stiff mannequin,” said Lemens.
“As soon as we got in there because of how many times we practiced in class, it became like second nature,” said Alex Hernandez, an EMT student.
From the crime scene, emergency medical technicians transported the victims to a simulated emergency room, where nursing students then took over patient care and gave Lemens an IV.
“The students received the patients from the EMTs and then started to provide acute care management to those patients to try to stabilize them so that they could begin to understand how severely they were injured and then also begin to restore them hopefully back to health,” said Dr. Larinda Dixon, Professor of Nursing.
“We learned how to switch off and hand off the patient. As far as the respiratory team, how they would come in and help out with their portion of it,” said nursing student Tim Clouser.
Then Lemens was taken in for a CT-scan, before finally undergoing simulated surgery.
The college had done a number of other simulations before but never on such a large scale. With so many departments working together, it allowed students to see the bigger picture when it comes to an emergency situation.
“In class we just focus on the EMS side so when we transitioned into the ER we were like ‘Oh so this is what goes on after us,” said Hernandez.
“One of the wonderful things about simulation is, they may make mistakes and it’s okay but they don’t harm anyone,” said Dixon. “This is the place where they can learn how to do things better, be more efficient and hopefully grow from not only their mistakes but their accomplishments too.”
All the action was taped for other students to watch live in the classroom and in the weeks following participants will review the footage to see how they performed.
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