KILLEEN — Soldiers of the 81st Civil Affairs Battalion, 85th Civil Affairs Brigade, volunteered their skills and faces to health science students at the Killeen Independent School District Career Center on April 9-10 as they assisted emergency medical technician and certified nursing assistant students to prepare for upcoming practical exams.
“The soldiers come in every month or so to instruct on different subjects and provide different viewpoints,” said Becky Hammontree, the career center EMT instructor. “Today they are bringing the instruction all together.”
Knowing how to use special equipment is an important aspect of EMT life. The soldier medics provided guidance and real-world knowledge as the students practiced removing simulated car crash victims using the Kendricks Extrication Device, a device meant to stabilize the neck and back of patients to prevent further injury.
As the students worked to communicate with one another while bracing and moving patients, they soon realized the challenges of operating in the small confines of cars. Spc. Courtney Rutan, a medic, took notice as she guided the students through the process of extrication.
“The military is practiced at removing patients from vehicles because of all the equipment that we wear,” she said. “The students are realizing that it is difficult to remove large patients from small vehicles.”
Finagling the patients onto the long board for extrication, the students eventually understood the process after a few repetitions of the car crash scenario accompanied by a little guidance from Rutan and the other medics.
In addition to EMT training and certification, the career center offers students the opportunity to enter the nursing profession.
“As long as it helps them learn and grow, I am happy to volunteer,” said Spc. William McKinstry, a communications specialist.
As with the EMT certification exam, the nursing students also are required to complete a comprehensive practical exam consisting of any task covered in the course curriculum; anything from changing sheets while the patient is in the bed to shaving. Having live volunteers allows the students a more realistic training environment than mannequins.
“The soldiers bring the real life piece that I cannot provide with a mannequin,” Woods said. “If it was not for this experience, I may not have the ability to provide such a great learning experience for the students.”