EMS students get real-life training

Becky Vargo • May 18, 2017 at 3:00 PM

GRAND HAVEN TWP. — Students from the Careerline Tech Center’s emergency medical services class performed CPR on a drowning victim, pulled a grill explosion victim out of a tree, rescued an injured hiker off an embankment, gave aid to an injured mountain biker and helped a playground victim who was allergic to bees.

The scenarios practiced Monday at Ottawa County’s Kirk Park gave the students from area high schools a chance to practice the skills they had learned in class in the actual environment in which they might occur.

“Being out here gives us a little more realistic situation,” said Grand Haven senior Mikalia Bruursema. “I love this class. It’s opened up so many opportunities.”

Bruursema said the class is a good introduction for entry into nursing school that she plans to attend at Baker College.

Spring Lake senior Casey King got caught up in the excitement of working in emergency services, following his older brother Cody into the class.

“Halfway through the course, I realized it wasn’t for me,” Casey said. “Still, it teaches you a lot of valuable skills you can use the rest of your life.”

Casey said he decided to stick out the year. Now he knows he will be more comfortable helping keep a person alive until someone with more advanced qualifications arrives on the scene.

Students rotated from scenario to scenario, and worked through the situations with the guidance of volunteers who work as firefighters, paramedics or in some other medical setting in the West Michigan area.

One of those guiding the students was Casey’s brother, Cody King, a 2015 Spring Lake High School graduate and EMS class alumnus. Cody works as an emergency room technician at Hackley Hospital in Muskegon. He is also a former Spring Lake Township firefighter.

Cody King and Marvin Rapp, who works for Life EMS, assisted students with CPR and using an AED (automated external defibrillator) in a possible drowning scenario.

A lead student would approach the victim, ask questions if the victim can talk, and direct the other medical help at the scene. In this case, one group of students applied the AED shock while the victim was lying on the wet sand.

King pointed out the importance of being aware of your surroundings when working in an emergency situation.

“Don’t make yourself a patient,” he told the students. “Don’t make bystanders patients either.”

Head instructor Kim Schrader, wife of Lt. Shawn Schrader of the Grand Haven Township Fire Rescue Department, said the EMS class has been partnering with the fire department for 11 years in the situational training. 

This year, volunteers from other departments have joined the group, including Zeeland firefighter Duane Baker, who is on the group’s advisory board, and his daughter, Janae Baker, an AMR paramedic. Also assisting was Grand Haven Township firefighters Brad Ayres (a North Ottawa Community Hospital paramedic) and Jack Maher, as well as class alumnus and college students Michael Olthof and Kambrea Sale.

Kim Schrader said the goal of the class is career exploration. About 25-50 percent of the class will continue in the emergency services, she said.

Those who take the class are eligible to test for an EMT basic license. It would cost almost $1,500 to take this class once you’re out of high school, Schrader said.

Olthof, also a Ferrysburg firefighter, said the class saved him eight credits, or about $4,000, at Lake Superior State University. Students do have to pay a fee to get the college credits.

The EMS class did a week’s worth of scenarios, including a mock bus crash on Tuesday and extrication from a crashed vehicle, working with Olive Township firefighters, on Wednesday.

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