At the National EMS Academy (NEMSA), classes accommodate learners’ work schedules and paramedics attend training-paid sessions. “We got together with the business and academic communities and identified a chronic need for paramedics and basic-EMT workers,” said Director Gifford Saravia. “Now, 175-200 students start each semester and within four months, those who complete basic-EMT training can work full time while continuing their paramedic training. In a typical college setting, you complete core courses, then specialize; we reversed that model.”

SimMan®, MegaCode Kelly, VitalSim®, airway trainers, IV arms and pedi/intubation heads are “quality products, and give a full range of educational options, from basics like blood pressure, to learning to identify heart sounds or performing specific skills,” said Saravia. “They give our instructors objective ways to measure students, and allow students to DO the skills, rather than verbalize them.”

MegaCode Kelly manikins figure prominently in mass casualty trainings with placement in trees, under cars and elsewhere. Nicholas Miller, EMS instructor, said, “The MegaCode Kelly is easy for our adjuncts to use, and allows students to practice a variety of ALS skills and simulations. Because they are portable, our students can put them on a stretcher and continue care in an ambulance, just like actual EMS calls. We definitely get more bang for our buck with MegaCode Kelly.”


Realistic training for real-life emergencies

During Hurricane Katrina, Saravia assisted with evacuations and rescue operations. “It was eye-opening, a huge undertaking.” Not surprisingly, NEMSA favors on-the-fly scenarios. “As a medic, you have to be prepared for anything, and we rely heavily on simulation so students can make – and learn from – their mistakes. Most EMT training programs use simulation these days; those that don’t are missing a huge opportunity.”

“We videotape students; they feel it’s ‘high stakes’,” said Saravia. “Their hands shake, they sweat, it’s real to them.” Instructors seat manikins in bathrooms, flicker lights, splatter blood on walls, or hang manikins. “Students may not know that establishing scene safety is an objective, so they go in and immediately get shot. We want them to think before they react, and ingrain that in them, so we achieve safety, better patient care and better patient outcomes.”

“With students and instructors scattered all over Louisiana, our jobs are made a lot easier because of Laerdal technology,” Saravia said. “Our mass casualty incidents (MCI) and trauma simulations are where the rubber really meets the road.” Twice yearly, 40-50 paramedic students come to Lafayette where basic-EMT students and manikins are patients for plane crashes, school shootings or vehicle crashes into a crowd. “We bring in helicopters, fire and police departments, and the media for interagency activity. Students enjoy it – and learn – because it gives them a sense of scale and added realism.”


Online and transitional military training programs point to the future

NEMSA’s interactive computer-based training (CBT) program, “NEMSA Online,” offers continuing education courses and skills refreshing using virtual instructors, supporting graphics, manikins and equipment demonstrations. And, in September 2010, NEMSA began “Military Bridge Program,” a 14-week pilot training program with ten Air Force students. It focuses on transitioning military personnel from EMT to paramedic and uses high-traffic ambulance routes for optimal clinical experience.