This week the JEMS Editorial Staff spent time time with 19 paramedic students and EMS system supervisors from Australia and New Zealand who are in the United States on a cooperative tour with assistance from JEMS and other agencies to provide an extreme educational experience for their degree paramedic students.
The 16 paramedic students participating in the two-week educational tour of EMS systems in the United States are completing a four-year paramedicine degree program that is extremely extensive. Many of the visiting students will continue on an extra year to also obtain their nursing degree.
While in the United States, arrangements have been made for them to visit several large EMS systems including the San Diego Fire Department, the San Diego FD Marine and Lifeguard Division, Communications Center and the San Diego Fire/EMS Air Operations Division.
On Monday, the entire group joined JEMS Editor-in-Chief A.J. Heightman and Senior Editor Sarah Ferguson for a very special tour of Strategic Operations in San Diego, a former movie studio that does special tactics and training for the military, special operations medics and civilian tactical services.
Strategic Operations Inc. (STOPS) is located on the lot of Stu Segall Productions, which was once one of the largest independent TV/movie studios in America. Formed in 2002, STOPS, provides “Hyper-Realistic” training services and products for military, law enforcement and other organizations responsible for homeland security.
STOPS develops state-of-the-art Hollywood battlefield special effects, combat wound effects, medical simulation systems like the patented Human-Worn Surgical Simulator (“Cut Suit”), role players and immersive training scenarios to create training environments that are the most unique in the industry.
STOPS also manufactures a wide range of products including a patented mobile, scalable building system that can replicate the look of any area of the world, replica weapons, 3-D live-fire targets, ballistic unmanned ground vehicle targets and props of all kinds.
While at Strategic Operations, the students were treated to a behind-the-scenes demonstration of a simulated terrorist attack. In the scenario, a sniper fired an AK47 and a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) near the crowd. The simulated explosion blew the leg off one “victim” (an amputee actor) and sent shrapnel into the body of another “victim” who was dressed in the STOPS trademarked “Cut Suit.”
The Cut Suit is a unique over-the-body suit worn by a person. It enables a provider to do a cricothyrotomy, plural decompression, IV insertion, chest tube placement a cessation of bleeding via the application of tourniquets.
After a complete tour the facility, the Aussies were given a tour of a realistic Afghani village where simulated attacks take place and training of special forces occurs.
The students received instruction on special techniques for applying tourniquets and insertion of pleural decompression needles. They were then afforded the opportunity to perform these important techniques under realistic conditions on a “patient” in a Cut Suit and tourniquets in a completely dark and smoke-filled environment.
They were also shown special weapons and operational training areas such as a full simulation military Osprey plane/helicopter where Military medics, corpsmen, special Operations Forces and physicians are being taught to perform surgical procedures while in flight and en route to a forward military hospital. The survival rate for patients now who are alive when contacted by military personnel trained in techniques at Strategic Operations is at the 96% survival level.
After leaving San Diego, the Australians will be headed to Los Angeles where they will spend three days riding 12-hour shifts with LA City Fire Department Paramedic Ambulances and Paramedic Engines.
After their Los Angeles visit, they will be headed to Las Vegas where they will visit with popular EMS textbook and journal author Bryan Bledsoe and ride with paramedic units in the Las Vegas area including Medic West Ambulance, a primary ambulance transportation provider in that region.
A Special Note from A.J.:
I want to make a few personal comments about the teamwork and coordination that it takes to pull off a two week extravaganza EMS tour in the United States.
Colin Allen, Alan Mountford and Daniel Townson, the supervisors accompanying the Australian students, have spent countless hours and email conversations with me and other officials to arrange spectacular visits and EMS experiences.
The students pay $3,000 For all of their airfare and hotel expenses for the 2-week trip to the United States. They also pay for their meals and tours that are arranged by their supervising officials. They are up at 6 o’clock every morning and going to bed at about 10 o’clock every evening.
Colin, Alan and Daniel arrange for all of their site visits as well as trips to Southern California tourist attractions such as an LA Dodgers baseball game, visits to Manhattan Beach, Disneyland, the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and other interesting sites along the way.
They travel in three SUVs with Australian flags proudly displayed on the front and rear and they have daily briefings and discussions after each visit. It’s a remarkable undertaking and the coordinators deserve all the credit in the world for their dedication and hard work.