EMS training

Aliya Ziesmer, left, and Calista Rite, both Belton High emergency medical technician students, were at the Temple College Clinical Simulation Center on Wednesday to practice different medical scenarios using patient simulators.

When Aliya Ziesmer and Calista Rite walked into the mock emergency department room they were faced with a patient that was screaming and not responding to many of their questions. In advance, the two had been told the individual had been in a farming accident.  

The faux patient was missing his right arm and left leg and to set the scene, Bobby Steele, assistant professor in EMS Professions, opened up an IV drip line so fake blood could be exiting the wounds before the students arrived.

The students carry bags full of equipment to be used in an assortment of injuries.

This scene was set in a mock room, but the techniques they used would be the same whether the patient was in an ambulance or at the site of the accident.

The health education programs at the high schools are done at a different pace than the college classes, these seniors are on their fourth year of and this practice is taking place about halfway through their final year, said Steele.

“It’s given us more time to dig in and logistically it has worked out well,” he said.

These students should be ready to take care of trauma and medical emergencies, Steele said. Up until now the training has been a bit disjointed, but currently they have all the tools and knowledge they need to handle these emergencies.

“They are in their uniforms and have their bags and this should be fun to watch,” he said.

Misty Hood, Hutto High School instructor of the EMT pathway course, said this pathway has been offered for three years. The classes have prerequisites, such anatomy and physiology. This class falls in the senior year.

“My kids will be EMTs when they walk across the stage in May,” Hood said.

Corylynn Upton, Belton High principles of health sciences instructor, EMT, said the EMT programs at the different school districts are much alike.

The students focus on health science for four years and then have the option to focus on EMT, pharmacology, career shadowing, phlebotomy or CCMA, certified clinical medical assistant, Upton said.

Most of the students will eventually seek additional and more advanced certifications and pursue other health-related jobs following high school.

Hood said all of her senior students want to become physicians.

Heather Bankhead said Temple High School has offered the EMT program for five years, and she’ll have eight students graduating in May.

Much of what Temple High has done with its career and technology education has been emulated by other school districts.  

The students that start with the principles class continue on, with each course serving as a stepping stone to the next, Upton said.

“They have a career when they leave high school,” she said.

Some former students are working on ambulances and in hospitals; others go on to fire academies.

Before the simulations started on Wednesday the students were taking each other’s blood pressures and vitals.

“These are competencies they have to check off, so we’re making them use each other,” Hood said.

Sydnee Smith, 17, a Hutto EMT student, said the EMT training sounded more fun and offered more opportunities than some of the other health related courses.

“I want to become a neonatologist,” Smith said. “This is a good start to determine what I want to pursue in the future.”

Aaliyah McCullough, a senior at Temple High plans to attend Temple College, and work as an EMT for AMR medical transportation. Eventually, McCullough wants to become a nurse.

Amir Sarzaein of Belton High views the EMT classes as a stepping stone to move forward in medical education.

“It will also give me a job that can get me through college financially,” Sarzaein said.

Also in terms of medical terminology, physiology and anatomy, Sarzaein will have some background.

Sarzaein wants to become an infectious disease physician.

Calista Rite, Belton High senior, said she watched what happened to family members who went through Hurricane Katrina and knew she wanted to be in a position to do something if she were to go through something similar.

Rite will be getting her paramedic certification and then pursuing a medical degree in trauma medicine.

The EMT is an entry level certificate with six credit hours that can be elevated to paramedic program with 16 months of classes and further training, said Jeff Fritz, TC emergency medical services department chair.

Most of the TC paramedic classes have an average of 10 students.

During the practice, the simulators are controlled by fellow students, who tend to be tough on their peers during training sessions, Steele said.

The individuals in the control room manage the pulse, vital signs and other functions and can throw in complications for the students providing the medical care, information they need to know and deal with in order to keep the faux patient alive. 

The TC simulation center hosts final exams for other schools and it’s easy to pick out the students who have had the opportunity to train with simulators in an environment like the TC center, Steele said.

“They sail through with few problems,” he said.