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Mock crisis authentically adds to interdisciplinary preparedness


Students from Penn College’s School of Nursing & Health Sciences and School of Sciences, Humanities & Visual Communications joined area law enforcement, emergency management and health care professionals in a recent simulation at UPMC Susquehanna Williamsport Regional Medical Center and a variety of other locations.

The college’s paramedic program has participated in the drill since its inception, and this year, the School of Nursing & Health Sciences decided to participate schoolwide to provide an interdisciplinary learning opportunity. The school had conducted its own Interdisciplinary Professional Experience on campus for several years.

Among the simulated emergencies was a mass shooting in a building near the hospital.

Reporting for the action on March 31 were 180 students studying to become dental hygienists, nurses, occupational therapy assistants, paramedics, physician assistants, physical therapist assistants, radiographers and surgical technologists.

Many students joined hospital personnel in a temporary emergency care center set up in the hospital’s lobby, while paramedic students provided care at the site of the mock disaster, and still other students filled the roles of patients and panicked family members reporting to the scene and to the hospital.

“As future health care providers, it is important for our students to gain an appreciation for the roles and responsibilities of the other providers they will interact with on a regular basis,” said Christopher T. Boyer, director of paramedic technology programs at the college. “Drills such as this allow each student to witness varying health care providers in action, while also obtaining a better understanding of the complexities of the health care system.”

In addition to students in health sciences majors, several students in the emergency management technology major volunteered, working alongside hospital and county emergency management professionals.

“The job I eventually will take will be in an office,” said Valerie A. Magner, an emergency management technology student from Cogan Station. “I won’t be a first responder; I’ll be supporting first responders. Being here helps me understand better what’s going on out in the field during an incident and understand what they will need in the field to help complete the task.”

– Photos by Jennifer A. Cline, writer/magazine editor

PA student Charles L. Kaczmarski, of Somers Point, N.J., attends to a patient, portrayed by physical therapist assistant student Martha J. Hodge, of Hughesville.
PA student Charles L. Kaczmarski, of Somers Point, N.J., attends to a patient, portrayed by physical therapist assistant student Martha J. Hodge, of Hughesville.

Sylvia M. Immel, a PA student from Bellefonte, provides preliminary care to dental hygiene student Megan M. Mecouch, of Peach Bottom, playing the role of a patient with a head injury.
Sylvia M. Immel, a PA student from Bellefonte, provides preliminary care to dental hygiene student Megan M. Mecouch, of Peach Bottom, playing the role of a patient with a head injury.

Samer R. Doss, a PA student from Montoursville, listens to the heartbeat of dental hygiene student Megan P. Fitzsimmons, of Portville, N.Y.
Samer R. Doss, a PA student from Montoursville, listens to the heartbeat of dental hygiene student Megan P. Fitzsimmons, of Portville, N.Y.

PA student Nicholas A. Kilpatrick, of Muncy, fits dental hygiene student Miranda J. Kline, a distance learning student from York, with a sling.
PA student Nicholas A. Kilpatrick, of Muncy, fits dental hygiene student Miranda J. Kline, a distance learning student from York, with a sling.

Using a mobile X-ray unit, radiography students join the care team. From left are Chloe A. Bierly (partially obscured), of Jersey Shore; Emily Kepner, of Muncy; and Mary L. Hetzel, of Wellsboro.
Using a mobile X-ray unit, radiography students join the care team. From left are Chloe A. Bierly (partially obscured), of Jersey Shore; Emily Kepner, of Muncy; and Mary L. Hetzel, of Wellsboro.

Flight medics and pilots also took part in the drill. Staff from Stat MedEvac get ready to take a volunteer to their waiting helicopter …
Flight medics and pilots also took part in the drill. Staff from Stat MedEvac get ready to take a volunteer to their waiting helicopter …

… and wheel her to the helicopter for a real takeoff and landing.
… and wheel her to the helicopter for a real takeoff and landing.

Physician assistant students work alongside paramedics to assist physical therapist assistant student Brett W. Pehowic, of Lewisburg, who was very convincing in his role as a patient in severe pain. Included in photo are: PA student Reshma Sherpa, of Morrisville, N.C. (in yellow vest with back to camera), PA student Elizabeth A. Belz, of Montoursville, who participated in the drill in her other role as a Susquehanna Regional EMS paramedic (in blue jacket with white shoulder patch), and PA student Heidy C. Fernandez, of Bethlehem (in yellow vest and stethoscope).
Physician assistant students work alongside paramedics to assist physical therapist assistant student Brett W. Pehowic, of Lewisburg, who was very convincing in his role as a patient in severe pain. Included in photo are: PA student Reshma Sherpa, of Morrisville, N.C. (in yellow vest with back to camera), PA student Elizabeth A. Belz, of Montoursville, who participated in the drill in her other role as a Susquehanna Regional EMS paramedic (in blue jacket with white shoulder patch), and PA student Heidy C. Fernandez, of Bethlehem (in yellow vest and stethoscope).

From left, Troy E. Bower, of Williamsport, Daisy M. Walker, of Lehighton, and Erika R. Cowan, of Warren, are among second-year surgical technology students participating in the simulation.
From left, Troy E. Bower, of Williamsport, Daisy M. Walker, of Lehighton, and Erika R. Cowan, of Warren, are among second-year surgical technology students participating in the simulation.

Radiography student Emily Kepner (center), of Muncy, positions the X-ray tube on a mobile unit to capture an image of an injured ankle with the assistance of classmates Hetzel and Caitlin A. Dauberman (far right, holding the image receptor), of Muncy.
Radiography student Emily Kepner (center), of Muncy, positions the X-ray tube on a mobile unit to capture an image of an injured ankle with the assistance of classmates Hetzel and Caitlin A. Dauberman (far right, holding the image receptor), of Muncy.

Surgical technology students Kortney J. Heim, of Pitman, and Cowan transport a patient to “surgery.” Acting as the patient is Jacquelyn G. Lenhardt, of Conneautville.
Surgical technology students Kortney J. Heim, of Pitman, and Cowan transport a patient to “surgery.” Acting as the patient is Jacquelyn G. Lenhardt, of Conneautville.

Students and health care professionals surround mock patients in the temporary emergency care area set up in the hospital lobby.
Students and health care professionals surround mock patients in the temporary emergency care area set up in the hospital lobby.

PA students – in yellow and red vests – gather information from a patient and the paramedics transporting him to the hospital. From left are Breica N. Beck, of Mountville (in yellow vest with blue stethoscope), Danielle N. Bilger, of Hollidaysburg (in yellow vest with purple stethoscope), and Timothy A. Bradley, of Williamsport (in red vest).
PA students – in yellow and red vests – gather information from a patient and the paramedics transporting him to the hospital. From left are Breica N. Beck, of Mountville (in yellow vest with blue stethoscope), Danielle N. Bilger, of Hollidaysburg (in yellow vest with purple stethoscope), and Timothy A. Bradley, of Williamsport (in red vest).

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