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    Posted October 5, 2014 by
    Peyton, Colorado
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    Community Helps High School Medical Students Test Career Ambitions


    PEYTON, Colo. (Oct. 4, 2014) — With a school bus shoved against a wrecked Ford minivan during a warm weekend afternoon, health academy students rushed to “save lives.”


    “You got this, you got this,” said Eric Peterson, who helps future emergency medical technicians at Pikes Peak Community College benefit from practical exercises.


    Peterson was one of dozens of community volunteers assisting a staged mass-casualty incident Oct. 4 at Falcon High School in District 49. Before the exercise, he was one of several people applying moulage to nearly 30 volunteers in the school’s cafeteria.


    The appearance of shocking wounds was accompanied by vital statistics typed on cards, which were hung around the necks of volunteers, mostly students. After reading about their specific wounds, vital signs and disposition, they got into character.


    The Academy of Health Sciences responded with 18 students: nine seniors on the emergency medical technician track, and nine juniors on the responder. While many had participated in other exercises, it’d be their first with combined community contributions.


    There were several mechanisms of injury to recognize, so they may anticipate the needs of their “patients.” The bus had suddenly “crashed” into a speeding car. The drivers may have hit a steering wheel or windshield. It’s likely shattered glass had caused severe lacerations.


    Passengers were staged inside and outside of the vehicles, moaning and screaming. Some actors played the role of hysterical parents arriving to find their children. The chaotic scene tested critical thinking and teamwork skills, and patient assessment and first aid tactics.


    The health students examined the simulated wounds, using round stickers to indicate each casualty’s status as black, red, yellow or green. They responded to patients needing urgent life-saving care, and evacuated those who could be moved from the scene.


    Ninth-grader Cheyenne Binnebose’s casualty card identified her as a confused 13-year-old who’s unable to move her left leg. The right side of her face is drooping. Her blood pressure is elevating. Her blood’s oxygen saturation is plummeting. She’s crying for attention.


    Binnebose, 14, had volunteered to assist friends at the health academy. She’s planning to begin her medical training next year as a sophomore at Falcon High School.


    “We wanted to give them as much real life training as they can get,” said Shonteau Travis, the high school’s emergency medical instructor who organized the exercise. “This is an experience that’s needed to help them know what they want to do for their career.”


    “You can read a textbook, but this is real hands-on experience,” said Travis. “This person has an open fracture—what do I do? What do I need? Back up? Life support?”


    Falcon High School’s Academy of Health Sciences


    Roughly 220 students attend classes through the health academy, where concurrent enrollments lead to college credits. Travis says many will earn more than a dozen credits from Pikes Peak Community College by the time they graduate from the high school.


    They’re held to a higher standard than other students, according to Connie Micheals-Lipp, Academy of Health Sciences program coordinator. Teachers monitor their readiness for health care employment, as they discover their career passions through the coursework.


    The tough training and high standards peak during their junior year. It’s common to decide on less intense medical careers, such as physical therapy, veterinary or dental.


    After turning 18 years old, high school students can complete 12-hour shifts in an emergency room and ambulance, and then take the national registry exam. After passing, they can immediately seek employment as nursing assistants.


    AOHS Students’ First Combined Mass-casualty Incident


    During the incident, the health academy students called out to each other: “Move the injured out of the way … We need people to carry this guy … Check her blood pressure again … We need a bagger … Does anyone have an arm cuff?”


    They leveraged the mentorship of technicians and paramedics from American Medical Response, Falcon Fire Department and Colorado Springs Fire Department. Veterans who served as combat medics gave insight. A coroner form El Paso County confirmed “deaths.”


    “This is just awesome—my heart is beating like crazy,” said 12th-grader Jacob Solberg, 17, after a brief transit as a patient in an air ambulance, his first ride in a helicopter. “I had wanted to be a parajumper or pararescue in the military, and this just sealed the deal.”


    Twelfth-grader Marissa Serna, 17, had joined Solberg in the air ambulance. She said the multiple casualty exercise prompted a change for her potential career path.


    “I had wanted to be an emergency room doctor, but now I’m thinking about going to college and being a flight paramedic,” said Serna. “I want to first understand it from the field, and then go on and become a doctor.”


    Serna’s views were echoed by 12th-grader Bryce Bagby, 17, who joined the Academy of Health Sciences during his sophomore year. Bagby also values medical experiences outside controlled environments. After earning a CPR certification, he took a lifeguard job.


    Bagby has so far earned 12 college credits that, aside from books, uniforms and a pair of scissors, cost him nothing. He expects to graduate high school in May with more than 20 credits, which he’ll put toward an undergraduate program.


    During his junior year, Bagby got inspired to pursue emergency room care. As an 18-year-old next semester, he’s looking forward to studying phlebotomy through Pikes Peak Community College.


    “I want to be a paramedic in the field, and then start my pre-med to eventually become an emergency room doctor,” said Bagby.


    “But I want to first get all the field experience I can,” he said, approaching a circle of his peers listening to a post-exercise critique. “And this makes me want to do that even more. The adrenalin is great, and so is the opportunity to one day save a life.”


    “In reality, they could be doing this in real life within a year,” said Micheals-Lipp, suggesting the labor force is in need of more medical technicians. She says there’s currently an imbalance of doctors to technicians in Colorado.


    “But they’re going to go from high school to college with a better idea of what they want to do,” she said.

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