College of Southern Maryland Emergency Medical Services (EMS) student Meagan McCurry didn’t know what to expect or how she would react during the mass casualty incident (MCI) drill as she mulled over scenarios on her drive to the La Plata Campus Aug. 9. She hoped she would do well.
“When we came up to the scene my heart was racing. It didn’t take long to get into a rhythm. I felt very prepared. We tried to follow the protocol for MCIs which is to do the greatest good for the greatest number of patients with the resources we have,” said McCurry, of Sunderland, who is also a nursing student.
CSM’s EMS program recently earned accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, a national accrediting agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
The drill, conceived of and organized by the EMS faculty team consisting of CSM EMS Program Coordinator and Associate Professor John Gosford, adjunct instructors Farrah Gosford April Johnson, Eva Jones and, Douglas Skinner, Richard Thomas and Adam Weiss, brought together first responders and agencies from Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties. Also involved were CSM Public Safety personnel and the EMS program’s medical director, Dr. Darin Mann of University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center.
“The simulated drill was to give paramedic students the opportunity to practice their skills in treating multiple patients and interacting with local agencies,” said John Gosford. “The scenario involved volunteers in make-up as well as high-fidelity simulation manikins to challenge students on their ability to triage, treat and arrange for transport of patients.”
Students were also learning about a state-of-the-art triage tag which uses bar codes and computer systems to continually update information entered at the scene that paramedics, transport personnel, doctors and hospitals use to track patients’ vital data. Representatives from the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS), the agency providing state funding to Charles County for the pilot program, attended the drill to monitor the system in action.
After local emergency responders arrived at the campus, where employees and students had already been apprised of the exercise, the exercise began with CSM’s Public Safety Office sending a text message as well as announcing over the emergency warning system that this was a drill. EMS students were dropped off outside the Health Technology (HT) Building for a quick briefing from the on-scene commander before beginning the assessment process. Throughout the exercise, students were hit with additional situations and problems so as to simulate real-world obstacles that often hamper a smooth rescue process.
Following the drill, students met with professional first responders who had been monitoring and evaluating their actions throughout the morning.
“The drill for the EMS students and local agencies was a great success. The students showed their ability to work together, take care of their simulated patients and interact with the local agencies well. Our EMS students reported this type of training helps them prepare for the real world events that they may see and be responsible for after they are certified and working as paramedics in the communities,” said John Gosford.
CSM students participating in the drill included, Dallas Arenas of Leonardtown, James Betz of Washington, D.C., Eva Conway of Waldorf, Erin Gordon of Marbury, Monica Hall and Jacob Hall of St. Leonard, Caroline Hedegaard of Lusby, Jennifer Kravats of St. Inigoes, Megan Krentsa of Washington, D.C., McCurry, Lori Roper of Lusby, Elliot Rosenwald of Arlington and Nathan Ward of Great Mills.
After the drill, Krentsa, who has a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University, said her interest in EMS grew when she accompanied friends to the Dunkirk Volunteer Rescue Squad where they volunteer. “I was hooked from the beginning and with tuition paid for by Calvert County [through a state grant], it was a good deal and in return I will volunteer for Calvert County for two years.”
For information on CSM’s Health Sciences programs, including Emergency Medical Services, visit http://www.csmd.edu/hea/.