FORT DRUM, N.Y. (June 21, 2022) -- A group of emergency medical services professionals practiced life-saving skills and procedures June 18 alongside Army instructors and Soldiers during Fort Drum EMS Day.
Hosted by Bridgewater-Vaccaro Medical Simulation Training Center (MSTC) and the North Country EMS Program Agency, the daylong training event focused on topics ranging from burn management and burn center capabilities to hemorrhage control techniques and military aeromedical evacuation.
Ann Smith, Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization (FDRHPO) EMS program director, said that EMS Day was established more than a decade ago, but it was put on hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The last one was in 2019, but it was something we wanted to keep doing at least annually or maybe twice a year,” she said. “In the civilian world, we only dream of a facility like this, so to be able to experience the simulations and practice our skills here has been great.”
For most participants, this was their first experience using the MSTC’s advanced training simulators – mannequins that can breathe, bleed and regurgitate – that can realistically mimic trauma.
After receiving an overview on how the medical mannequins works, and some practical advice on how to remove fake blood from their clothing, the group took turns treating a casualty in the Combat Trauma Training Lab.
Janice Gravely, an EMT with the Carthage Area Rescue Squad, quickly applied a tourniquet to the mannequin, then probed her fingers into an arterial wound to stop the bleeding.
“It gives you a sense of realism you can’t get in classroom training,” she said. “You can actually feel the pulse, so you know you haven’t got enough pressure on it yet. This makes you appreciate what you have to do in a critical situation to keep someone alive and save their life.”
Lisa Covey, with Lyons Falls Fire Department, said the training helped reinforce what the EMS professionals know by putting them in a stressful, realistic environment. Having attended EMS Day four years ago, she said that she looked forward to returning.
“You can learn a lot reading from a book, but I learned so much more today than I thought possible,” she said. “I’m just finishing paramedic school, and we had clinicals and labs that were great. But training with the mannequins here was unbelievable. They can sense what you are doing, right or wrong, and it’s a totally different experience.”
Participants also conducted an airway practical on a mannequin using a maneuver called SALAD (suction assisted laryngoscopy and airway decontamination) to clear an aggressively contaminated airway.
“I had never done intubation or suctioning on someone with fluids coming out, so it was really eye-opening trying to find those vocal cords in the midst of all that,” Gravely said.
Also supporting the day’s training were members of the Fort Drum Fire and Emergency Services, SUNY Upstate Medical University Clark Burn Center and 10th Combat Aviation Brigade personnel.
“This is honestly some very valuable training,” said Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Carey, 10th CAB flight paramedic. “The more we can work with our community partners to establish bonds and get on a level playing field where we are tracking what they need and they are tracking what we need, it only makes us better at what we do.”
In the culminating event, attendees extracted a burn victim from a building and loaded the patient onto a helicopter.
“For me, the biggest thing I got out today was the helicopter medevac,” Covey said. “I have used them twice in my job, when Mercy Flight and LifeNet can’t fly and we’ve had to call Fort Drum. So, actually being able to see the people, meet the people and learn from them was huge.”