Home Blue Ridge nursing and EMS students participate in emergency training

Blue Ridge nursing and EMS students participate in emergency training

A nursing student plays a role Friday, April 21, 2023 in an emergency training scenario. Photos by Rebecca J. Barnabi.

The scenario at Blue Ridge Community College Friday afternoon was that students were protesting near the Recreation Center.

The protest was about tater tots being too hot in the campus dining. But while protesting, a BRCC truck driver had a medical emergency and drove into the crowd of protesters.

While the scenario was fictitious, the training opportunity was real for BRCC’s EMS and nursing students.

An alarm sounded and Friday’s emergency training began. Ambulances arrived and EMS students determined the severity of injuries amid a scene of chaos, screams and blood.

“It’s mass chaos, but this is an awesome opportunity for our students,” BRCC EMS Program Director Scott Vanderkooi said. Students were able to practice skills and make mistakes within a controlled environment of chaos.

Vanderkooi said EMS and nursing faculty at BRCC created Friday’s emergency scenario.

“They have never had this level of a scenario,” he said.

In a class setting, students see one or two patients at a time. On Friday, more than 55 students worked together as a team.

“I think they’re doing absolutely wonderful. They’ve mentally worked through a lot,” Vanderkooi said of Friday’s training.

In BRCC’s Plecker Center, two make-shift hospitals were set up to receive patients from the accident at the Recreation Center. The second hospital was a more chaotic interpretation.

“What we’re simulating is they’re in an emergency department and they’re seeing patients who were in an accident,” said Samantha Koontz, nursing professor at BRCC. The scenario was made more realistic and chaotic by having some patients who were already in the emergency department before the accident.

Students portraying patients from the accident who were discharged later returned as parents looking for their children who were in the protest.

“The students are responding really well,” Koontz, a labor and delivery nurse at Augusta Health, said.

Upon admittance to the emergency department, each patient had a chart, and nursing students assessed the patient’s condition. A BRCC faculty member confirmed the student’s assessment before treatment was determined.

Koontz said that Sentara RMH staff were also on scene evaluating student performance amidst the emergency scenario.

Kellista Campbell was victim no. 44. In the scenario, she suffered a pelvic fracture in the accident.

Campbell, who wants to be a nurse anesthetist, said that Friday’s training was a good learning experience for students.

“You have to be really on your feet and fluid,” she said.

When EMS students approached her with a stretcher at the Recreation Center, Campbell played her part and said “Don’t move me.” With a pelvic fracture, moving a patient can be very painful.

“I’ve never been in an ambulance. That was exciting. Honestly, I felt like the part became me because I started actually feeling the symptoms I was exhibiting,” Campbell said.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.