Mont Alto trauma training provides hands-on know-how

Penn State Mont Alto forestry and nursing students collaborate during trauma exercise
Penn State Mont Alto Trauma Scenario

Forestry students administer emergency care to classmate Ryan Karroll and keep him calm while also calling medical services to their location.

Credit: Debra Collins

MONT ALTO, Pa. — Penn State Mont Alto forestry and nursing students participated in a trauma-training event on April 29, giving them hands-on experience with emergency and rescue care. 

The seventh annual trauma-training scenario started 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, was brought to the cover of the state park pavilion after a tree-harvesting accident caused a large wound on his right shoulder. With possible head and neck injuries, i-Stan, role-played by forestry student Josh Hersl, was almost unconscious, moaning in pain and in need of care.

As forestry students rushed to help i-Stan, a second classmate, Ryan Karroll, took a tumble and severely injured his leg.

Forestry students administered emergency care to both i-Stan and Karroll, while also calling medical services to their location. As emergency medical technicians arrived, forestry students assisted with placing the patients on stretchers and carrying them to ambulances, which delivered them to a mock emergency department on the Mont Alto campus.

The trauma exercise made 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 Ryan 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 were delivered to a busy emergency room with nursing students portraying patients and others providing care. Some also played upset family members of the patients, giving nursing students practice in dealing with irate family members.

Nursing student Abigail Turner assisted 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 gathered in a classroom for a debriefing and to discuss what they had learned from the days’ events.

Although rain made it necessary for i-Stan to be set in a dry place, instead of in the woods as planned, and poor visibility kept the Air Methods Maryland Life Net 81 helicopter from flying to campus to close the event, the training experience was invaluable to the students, said Carranda Barkdoll, Penn State Mont Alto Nursing program campus coordinator.

“This integrated hands-on simulation gave nursing and forestry students practice with their field first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) skills. Nursing students strengthened their teamwork skills for receiving trauma patients and all participants gained experience in EMS (emergency medical services) collaboration and in working with local and federal government agencies. It was a good day.”

See more photos of the event at

The following organizations assisted 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.