FR/EMT Students Conduct Patient Extrication Exercise

Inver Grove Heights Fire and Rescue hosts simulation

IGH Fire Captain Nick Vars uses jaws of life to extricate patient from wreckage

Close to 30 students from the First Responder and EMT programs at Dakota County Technical College conducted a motor vehicle accident patient extrication simulation at Inver Grove Heights Fire Station 3 Tuesday, April 12, 2011, with several IGH firefighters working to make the emergency as true to life as possible. IGH Fire Captain Nick Vars directed the simulation with Deb Kaye, DCTC emergency medical services training program coordinator/instructor, providing instruction to her students.

Kaye is training a diverse group of professionals spring semester 2011, including three firefighters, two police officers, one corrections officer, two active-duty military personnel and one medical assistant to name a few. “They’re all up for a good adrenalin rush and have a passion for helping others,” Kaye said. “Whenever I can, I add real-life scenarios to their education.”

The purpose of Tuesday’s exercise was to have Kaye’s students learn how to extricate a patient as quickly and safely as possible from a wreckage situation. The most common type of extrication involves a motor vehicle accident where a patient is trapped. Patient care defines the role of first responders and emergency medical technicians, who may reach the patient before fire and rescue personnel arrive, but also be denied access due to unstable vehicle conditions.

Kaye reported that firefighters take on a number of roles at an accident site besides extrication, including sizing up the scene, stabilization, gaining access to the patient, disentanglement and patient removal. In the case of extrication, the preferred method is removing the vehicle from around the patient rather than removing the patient from the vehicle.

“Today, my students saw firsthand the variety of power tools that can be used to spread, push, pull and cut a vehicle to remove it from around the patient,” Kaye said. “Thanks to the experience and patience of firefighters from IGH Fire Station Three, each of my students was able to directly participate in the simulation, experiencing both the role of victim and rescuer. After we completed each scenario, we held a question-and-answer session.”

Lisa McKenzie, a reserve officer with the South St. Paul Police Department, took part in the simulation and appreciates her EMT training at DCTC. “Deb’s an excellent teacher,” McKenzie said. “She has a ton of real-life experience in emergency situations and she knows how to put the pieces together. We repeat exercises thousands of times so that during an actual emergency the training just kicks in.”

Jeremiah Majerus, a First Responder student just accepted into the DCTC Practical Nursing program, likes all the opportunities Kaye presents for hands-on, practical training. “Working with the firefighters is great,” said Majerus, a Goodhue, Minn., native with plans to become a registered nurse. “They know what it’s like in the field. Like Deb says, ‘It’s not stay and play. It’s load and go.’”

IGH Firefigher Mike McMonigal coordinated the extrication simulation with his department. An EMT student, McMonigal has been on the job as a fire and rescue professional for three years. “This type of training is invaluable for both the students and the fire department,” he said. “Students get to experience an extrication event from the perspective of both an EMT and the patient. They also learn how to work with firefighters at the scene.”

Deb Kaye added that over the course of a semester her students often hear her insist that she teaches textbook skills. “They also hear me say that some EMS situations are not found in a book,” she said. “That means First Responders and EMTs must be prepared to think outside the box. During this exercise, my students did just that.”

For more information about First Responder and EMT courses at DCTC, contact:
  • Deb Kaye
    Emergency Medical Services Training Program Coordinator/Instructor
    651-423-8421

Patient Extrication Simulation Gallery

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  • IGH Fire Captain Nick Nar uses jaws of life to extricate patient from wreckage
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