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Using Simulation to Prevent Emergencies

Posted on May 21, 2018 by Evan Stiger

Emergency scene simulations, such as a mock car crash, can do more than help prepare EMS providers and other first responders. They can help high school students avoid becoming statistics.

Recently, Pocket Nurse® sponsored a mock crash at North Hills Senior High School. It was planned and staged for seniors the day before prom night, and the goal was to prevent them from driving impaired.

Setting the Scene

The scenario was set to occur after prom. Four students leave the event. One is intoxicated and causes a head-on collision with another car. The intoxicated driver is relatively unscathed. However, his passenger is not wearing a seat belt, and has crashed through the windshield.

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The scene of the accident. 

Two police officers arrive and test the driver’s sobriety. When he fails the field sobriety test, they escort him to their police cruiser.

First responders from an EMS unit pronounce the passenger dead when they arrive on scene. They cover her with a sheet.

The students in the other car are both unconscious from head injuries. Their doors are compromised, trapping them inside. Paramedics enter through the rear doors to assess their vital signs. Fire crews brace the car and remove both doors on the driver’s side. Both teams brace the driver’s neck and transfer him to a stretcher where they begin Basic Life Support (BLS) on the way to the ambulance.

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First responders assess injuries to a passenger.

The passenger is given an IV to prevent fluid loss, braced, and transferred to a stretcher. A life-flight helicopter transports her from the scene.

Scenario Strengths

The scenario was created in order to vividly demonstrate possible consequences of driving while impaired. The Ross West View EMS educators and participants made a choices that excellently highlighted the dangers of this all-too common scenario.

  1. As the scene was revealed and proceeds, a first responder explained the scene over an intercom to all students. She explained how crews thought and worked, and explained what was happening to each student in their fight for survival.
  2. An actor representing one of the teen’s mothers arrived sobbing. She frantically ran to inspect the bodies and screamed when she discovered her daughter had died. She even ran shouting at the intoxicated driver.
  3. Small details were accounted for to enhance the realism of the scene. Beer cans were scattered around one of the crashed vehicles. Moulage and fake blood made the injuries seem real. Real equipment was used to remove and transfer victims from their cars.
  4. Behind the scene, 15 students stood in silence wearing black t-shirts. Each shirt read “statistic” on the front. They represented the statistic that every 15 minutes, someone dies from an alcohol-related accident.
  5. Outside of the projected explanation and mother’s screams, everything was silent. All the first responders worked in silence. The student-actors didn’t speak. Sirens were only used sparingly, adding weight to the event.

Emergency medical services are adopting simulation in order to provide continuing education for their paramedics and EMTs, but there’s more than one way to save a life. Scenarios can also be used to educate communities. Consider using your simulations to prevent impaired driving, promote disaster awareness, and inform communities about the critical role of first responders.

Evan Stiger is Marketing Coordinator II at Pocket Nurse. He took the photos that accompanied this article.

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