Paramedic students train with West Kelowna Fire Rescue

Cynthia Shannon told emergency responders her legs were trapped and she was suffering from a head injury as she sat in the driver's seat of a damaged car Thursday.

She let out sounds of distress as firefighters broke the car's windows, tore off its doors and even removed its roof—making it easier for paramedics to rescue her and three other passengers.

The simulation, held at Pick-N-Pull in West Kelowna, was a training exercise for primary care paramedic students from the Justice Institute of B.C.

West Kelowna Fire Rescue members worked alongside the students, simulating an emergency situation where injured patients had to be removed from a vehicle.

"One of the aspects of the students' training is known as patient recovery," said Brad Fraser, regional training co-ordinator for the Justice Institute of B.C.'s paramedic academy in Kelowna.

The training allows the paramedic students to see how firefighters would respond to an emergency situation, and how they can make it easier to access the patients.

"They key is, if you can sometimes let these departments have a couple of minutes, they'll make your life so much easier, because they can literally take a roof off," said Fraser.

Shannon, who was acting as a victim, said the simulation seemed very realistic.

"We were doing practice maneuvers on chairs (earlier today). So to bring it from a chair to an actual vehicle…it's different," said Shannon.

She said she was a bit nervous when the firefighters started using various tools, such as the jaws of life, to pull apart pieces of the vehicle as she sat inside.

"There's a lot of heavy-duty tools that I've never been around before; to have them that close to you, it can be pretty scary."

She said this type of training will help her in the future, and has given her a better understanding of what patients might be going through at accident scenes.

The training exercise was also beneficial for West Kelowna firefighters; it gave them a chance to practise their extrication techniques.

Capt. Pat Harmata with West Kelowna Fire Rescue said firefighters frequently do vehicle extrication training at Pick-N-Pull in West Kelowna. He estimated the fire department goes through approximately 40 cars per year.

The training with the paramedic students takes place about twice per year, he added. He said it's important for students to learn how other emergency responders will act in similar emergency situations.

"It gets them on the same page as us, so we're talking the same language" said Harmata.

"When we start talking about what we're doing and how we're doing it, they'll have an understanding of what's happening on the outside of the vehicle."

Twitter: @PatersonWade


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