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Pennsylvania ER Docs Receive On Scene Training

The York County Fire School looked like an accident scene Wednesday afternoon.

Bystanders might have wondered why ambulances, a helicopter and the "Jaws of Life" tool, used to pry open crashed vehicles, were in use all day at the fire school, 330 Emig Road.

From providing care to "victims" trapped in a vehicle after a mock car accident, to performing CPR and inserting IVs on a dummy in a moving ambulance, future emergency room doctors played the roles of emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

York Hospital's three-year emergency medicine residency program provides training for individuals with medical degrees who want to work in the ER.

They participated in WellSpan Health's fourth annual emergency medical services (EMS) day Wednesday. During the nine-hour training day, the residents performed medical tasks of EMTs.

"We're giving residents the opportunity to see what it is like before the patient comes into the emergency department (at the hospital) and to really see the side of medical care from fire teams and EMT
personnel," said Dr. Dan Bledsoe, a director of pre-hospital care and disaster medicine at York Hospital.

New interns: Every hospital around the country accepts a class of new interns and residents on July 1, he said. The EMS day is part of the July orientation into the residency program at York Hospital.

The hospital's emergency medicine residency program typically interviews about 130 individuals and accepts 11 new residents each year for the program, he said.

Throughout the day, 20 individuals -- York Hospital medical residents of all levels and six medical school students from other institutions -- participated in advanced life support skills in the back of a moving ambulance, worked with "patients" who were exposed to chemicals and biological agents, and met with a medevac helicopter crew, Bledsoe said.

By learning what happens to a patient before his or her arrival at the ER, "they are better able to care for the patient," Bledsoe said.

"I think anyone can tell you 'seeing and doing' is a far better method of learning. You can read something from a book, but until you put into practice what you learn and actually get to participate in it, the appreciation is just far greater," he said.

First-year resident Nick Kalathas from Chambersburg, Franklin County, said it was a great experience to see what the patients go through prior to arriving at the ER.

"(Training day) was an opportunity for us to see how ambulance crews and paramedics stabilize a patient and what they see when they get to the scene of the accident before they are turned over to the ER physicians," he said.

Kalathas practiced CPR and inserting an IV into a dummy in the back of a moving ambulance, which he said "is difficult to get ... done in the small compartment when it is moving around."

"It's a lot easier when the patient is sedated in the hospital rather than in the moving ambulance," he said.

Resident Ashley Ryles from California said she has a much greater appreciation for EMTs after participating in the training day. During a demonstration, Ryles played the role of a victim who was in a car accident.

As for acting as an EMT for the day, Ryles developed a better understanding of the conditions that EMTs work under with the time constraints and confined areas they work in, she said.

"It's safe to say I, along with my peers, definitely have a new found respect for EMTs," she said.

-- Reach Lauren Whetzel at 505-5433 or lwhetzel@yorkdispatch.com



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