May 5, 2018
Story and photo by Brandon Steinert
Students from the Criminal Justice, Medical Assistant, Nursing and EMS programs at Barton Community College participated in a day-long string of intense, realistic scenarios designed to test their knowledge and ability to respond in-the-moment Saturday during the college’s annual Field Ops Day.
Volunteer “patients” from all over the community allowed themselves to be battered and bloodied via sometimes gory make-up to simulate realistic traumatic injuries ranging from scuffs, burns and bruises to broken bones and deep lacerations, which took a gallon of fake blood, a dozen hand-made lacerations and 48 sutures. Wrecked cars were also towed onto campus and staged for a mock major car accident.
Scenarios included simple doctor’s office visits, heart attacks, dog bites, a rollover accident and much more. Many of the almost 70 scenarios were set up so a patient is transported from the scene to a mock emergency room staffed by nursing and medical assistant students.
Not all the scenarios involved medical emergencies, however. Some volunteers had to stay in character as crime victims or unruly citizens as they were questioned or detained by the Criminal Justice students.
EMS Programming Specialist Jenny Ladd Jenny Ladd said the experience is designed to be all-encompassing. She said everyone who participates agrees to be completely serious and in-character so that the students get a genuine experience. For most of the students, it’s their first taste of a real emergency.
Rebecca Rebel is finishing her Registered Nurse training at Barton and participated for the first time during the 2018 Field Ops Day. She has spent some time working as a Licensed Practical Nurse, but she said Field Ops Day still presented some new experiences.
“It’s chaotic,” she said. “It’s a great learning experience and it feels very real. The actors have been really good and they’ve stayed in character. I’m used to labor and delivery, so the emergency room perspective is a whole new world. We really have to think fast.”
Barton Paramedic Instructor Andrew Hartzell said he wished his education included a Field Ops Day.
“It would have prepared me more for being in the field,” he said. “The students looked overwhelmed when it all got started and I said ‘yeah, it gets real.’ It’s really cool and I hope it continues to grow.”
Barton EMT student Paedyn Johnson admitted she did feel a little overwhelmed, at least at first.
“It’s both a stressful and low-pressure situation,” she said. “You don’t have to fear losing a life; you just fear critiques.”
Hartzell said the sink-or-swim feeling they experienced comes with the job, that many scenarios faced by a paramedic in real life are filled with unknowns, and a good paramedic or EMT is able to solve difficult problems quickly.
EMT student Alec Bluemel said the experience was more chaotic than he expected and he was impressed with the level of volunteer support.
“The scenes were pretty legit,” he said. “This has been fun and I’ve learned a lot. You get to treat patients without worrying about killing them.”
The 2018 Field Ops Day received support from numerous agencies, including LifeTeam, Russell County EMS and Sheriff’s Office, Hoisington EMS, Great Bend Fire Department, Ellinwood and Hoisington Police Departments, Barton County Emergency Communicators and Marshall’s Towing.
The elaborate event required help from 45 community volunteers to provide enough scenarios for Barton’s 11 EMS students, two medical assistant students, 25 registered nurse students and 21 criminal justice students.