Heather Simon pried the door of the car off with the jaws of life to get to the injured victim inside.
Once in, Simon, assessed the driver's injuries and helped stabilize her for transport to the emergency room.
Then everyone else got a turn.
Simon was one of more than 30 emergency medical residents from the Medical College of Georgia who put their treatment techniques aside last Thursday at the Martinez Fire Department's Gibbs Road training station to see how paramedics, emergency medical technicians, firefighters and law enforcement officers rescue and treat injured victims in the field.
"They get to see what we see when we get to a scene and the patient is still bloody," said Sandra Culver, a Gold Cross Emergency Medical Service captain. "They got to see what goes on out there and why it takes so long to get the patient to the emergency room."
DeAnn Bullock (left), a first-year resident at the Medical College of Georgia, and Krystina Huynh, a second-year resident at the Medical College of Georgia, try to remove part of a car at a mock accident scene.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The training began in the classroom, which the residents used in an intense hands-on exercise. Students used the jaws of life and other extrication equipment before practice stabilizing trauma patients - a side of the process they rarely get to see.
"I think it gives us the opportunity to see how bad a situation can be," said Simon, who normally gets to treat patients in hospital settings. "We got to see what it means to take time to extricate, put an IV in upside- down and the level of preparation involved in an outside setting that we don't normally get to see."
The residents, already doctors, had to be reminded not to try to do too much. The goal is only to treat life-threatening injuries and offer basic life support, Culver said.
"They understand what situations the patient has been through prior to arrival in the (emergency room)," said Carl Menckhoff, the program director for emergency medical residents.
They do get brief slices of in-the-field life through ride-alongs on ground and helicopter ambulances.
According to David Dickenson, the Martinez Fire Department assistant training officer, the residents experienced the golden rule - remove the vehicle from around the patient, not the patient from the vehicle. He believes the training opened their eyes to the action required before transporting a patient to the hospital.
Culver agreed. "They see it is more than just opening the door and snatching patients out."
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