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Paramedics earn degrees at Walters State
July 19, 2017

A maintenance garage on Walters State’s Public Safety campus was the site of a mock accident recently involving a failed car jack and a worker’s legs. Instructor John Reeves set up the faux demonstration as a test for students in the college’s Emergency Medical Services — Paramedic program.

Students responding to the scene found the car’s left front wheel assembly resting on the thighs of a 180-pound manikin, simulating a crush injury. 

The exercise is part of the college’s Emergency Medical Services program that offers either an Associate of Applied Science in EMS-Paramedic degree or the Technical Certificate in Public Safety-Paramedic. An EMS-Paramedic degree is designed to address the educational needs of Tennesseans who want to enter or advance their career within the field of emergency medical services. The Technical Certificate in Public Safety-Paramedic program prepares qualified, licensed emergency medical technicians to take the National Registry Paramedic Exam. 

Before the student rescue team was called to the scene, Reeves explained that the natural desire, among victims and rescuers alike, during crush-injury events is to immediately remove pressure and free the victim’s body.

Doing so without proper initial treatment, however, can advance a medical condition known as crush syndrome. The condition is caused by swelling and neurological disturbances that can result in major shock and renal failure when compression of large muscles is released without preliminary treatment. 

  “All those toxins end up going into the central circulation, and the patient can end up in cardiac arrest,” Reeves said. “So if the first thing (the students) do is come over here and jack up the car, we’re going to step over and kick the patient’s elbows out and say, ‘Uh, he just went unconscious.”

Responding in teams of four, students rolled a stretcher into the garage, assessed the situation, administered drugs and intravenous fluids and, in some cases, CPR. Chest compressions and a breathing tube usually are required when the students react in error to what Reeves says when speaking for the victim.

“He (the victim) said, ‘Man, I was just working on this car and my stand collapsed and kicked out from underneath! This pressure on my legs is hurting me so bad I can’t feel anything down there!’”

As if on cue, one of the students jacked up the car and Reeves informed the rescuers that the patient had lost consciousness. Once the patient was stabilized for transport, the exercise was over and Reeves began a class discussion about what the students did correctly, and about where there was room for improvement.

Students Kandra Spurling, 28, and Issac Inman, 33, both of Gatlinburg, are earning their technical certificates in Public Safety — Paramedic, which is required for their jobs as members of the Gatlinburg Fire Department. But there are other motivating factors as well. 

“My Papaw is the biggest reason I decided to do fire/rescue work,” Spurling said. “He thought it was the coolest thing ever that I wanted to be in a line of work for taking care of people. He bragged about it all the time, so I want to do good for him.”

In addition to class work and tests involving simulated emergencies, students in the program are required to log 270 hours of clinical work with EMT units they are not otherwise employed by. “It’s a big time commitment, it really is,” said Dalton Manis, 24, of Rogersville. “But it’s worth it.”

The Emergency Medical Services-Paramedic degree and technical certificate programs are part of Walters State’s Public Safety Division’s mission to address the diverse and comprehensive needs of regional law enforcement, fire service and emergency medical services agencies.


In the photo:
From left, Kandra Spurling, Issac Inman, and Dalton Manis, students in the Emergency Medical Services — Paramedic program at Walters State Community College, prepare a mock patient for transport during a recent training exercise at the college.