Penn State Mont Alto forestry and nursing students participate in an annual April trauma-training event, giving them hands-on experience with emergency and rescue care.
The trauma-training scenario starts in Mont Alto State Park near the Penn State Mont Alto campus on State Route 233. Injured logger i-Stan, a mobile, high-fidelity human simulation patient, is brought to the cover of the state park pavilion after a tree-harvesting accident causes a large wound on his right shoulder. With possible head and neck injuries, i-Stan, role-played by a forestry student, is almost unconscious, moaning in pain and in need of care.
As forestry students rush to help i-Stan, a second classmate takes a tumble and severely injures his leg.
Forestry students administer emergency care to both i-Stan and the leg injury, while also calling medical services to their location. As emergency medical technicians arrive, forestry students assist with placing the patients on stretchers and carrying them to ambulances, which delivers them to a mock emergency department on the Mont Alto campus.
The 2016 trauma exercise made participating forestry student Dominic Lenzi more aware of the possibility of getting hurt. “This event really puts it in perspective,” he said. “It could happen at any time.” It also delivered a few surprises. “We didn’t know [our other classmate] was going to get hurt,” said Lenzi, giving credibility to his classmate’s acting skills. “We even had to wrap his knee.”
The injured forestry students are delivered to a busy emergency room with nursing students portraying patients and others providing care. Some also play upset family members of the patients, giving nursing students practice in dealing with irate family members.
Nursing student Abigail Turner assisted in 2016 with stabilizing i-Stan and preparing him to be airlifted to a medical facility. “It is real life because we have no idea what these injuries are when the patients are coming in, so we have to act on our feet and put everything together as it comes in,” she said.
To conclude the training, the whole group gathers in a classroom for a debriefing and to discuss what they have learned from the day’s events.
The training experience is invaluable to the students, says Carranda Barkdoll, Penn State Mont Alto Nursing program campus coordinator. “This integrated hands-on simulation gives nursing and forestry students practice with their field first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) skills. Nursing students strengthen their teamwork skills for receiving trauma patients and all participants gain experience in EMS (emergency medical services) collaboration and in working with local and federal government agencies. It is a good day.”
The following organizations assist in the event: Franklin County EMA/911, Mont Alto EMS, Mont Alto Fire Department, Rescue Hose Fire and EMS Co., Franklin Fire Department, Waynesboro Advance Life Support (Medic 2), and Waynesboro Hospital. When weather permits, Air Methods Maryland Life Net 81 helicopter flies to campus to close the event.