By: Lieutenant Christopher Zach, NREMT-P
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue’s VCU paramedic students are nearing the end of their initial education program. The foundation has been laid, now they are refining that knowledge by continually running real-time scenarios to prepare them for their field ride along with Richmond Ambulance Authority, and ultimately, the National Registry test. Up until this point, the students had practiced EMS scenarios in the comfort of the Fire Academy, but that was about to change.
Last week, the students were brought to one of Fairfax County’s offsite training facilities for two very unique training opportunities. The first of which took place in what is called “Practical Plaza,” where there are mock occupancies set up in order to run scenarios in a realistic environment. Some of the occupancies include a coffee shop, a convenience store, bar, bank, and even a pizza shop. Behind the mock store occupancies is even an alleyway. Students acting as patients were moulaged and acted as the live interactive patient, while others acted as bystanders or family members/coworkers who were intended to be both helpful and distracting to the call.
The students were also taken to another county training site, where they have a “maze house” that is laid out like an apartment building with tight corners that are difficult to maneuver a stretcher through. In addition to demonstrating proper EMS interventions, the students also had to figure out the best way to both arrive to, enter and exit a scene with their equipment and cot. They were able to respond to the location in an ambulance provided by the Centreville Volunteer Fire Department. They quickly learned how important unit position is, as well as how time consuming it may be to retrieve a piece of equipment that was not initially brought into the incident and located back on the ambulance.
The VCU students have been doing scenarios for a while now, but placing them in new and realistic training environments, as well as adding the logistical elements to the scenarios, greatly increased the complexity and learning experience. By the end of the week they had really learned how much more there is to successfully running an incident beyond just the patient care.