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Wednesday, 03 December 2014 16:50

Amazing Race contributes to good experience for paramedic students

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Duane Delaurier, is an instructor and the organizer of the event receives treatment. Duane Delaurier, is an instructor and the organizer of the event receives treatment. Photo contributed

Four teams; one goal: save a life.

Well, maybe not save a “real” life, but follow the proper protocols so when these paramedic students graduate and are doing it for real, they will know how to act, react and administer the proper treatment.
The Nov. 25 Paramedic Amazing Race at the Medicine Hat College used college volunteers and the High Fidelity Simulation Centre’s mannequin (a close to real-life simulator which was put into various work stations around the campus). The teams were situated at different stations located at the campus pub Crave, the trades atrium, the simulation centre and Starbucks. They worked through a scenario and once completed, could go to the next one.
For three of the competitors, Andre Yaremchuk, Ryan Chollak — both from Lethbridge — and Boxsprings native, northwest of Medicine Hat, Alex Eisenbarth, it was an outstanding addition to what they say has been an intense, gruelling, but oh so fulfilling education so far.
“The training involves so much about the protocol, becomes so routine in your mind and you’re worried about the safety of the patient. It was good to utilize it around the campus,” explains Yaremchuk. “You’re anticipating everything that could go wrong. Then you’re presented with ‘what else are you going to be able to do?’ You’re pretty psyched up. It’s pretty much as near as you can get to real life.”
“You get in there and get in the heat of the moment. You’re not really seeing the students or staff. It becomes so second nature, you’re forgetting about it,” adds Chollak. “You’re worried about the safety of people around you and the patient and we’re here to defend it ... it’s more of a real feel dealing with bystanders.”
Eisenbarth agrees and says the logistics or realism “brings them right there.”
Matthew Jubelius, manager of health simulation and Duane Delaurier, paramedic instructor at MHC, seemed to be pleased with the final results. Jubelius says this was the third Amazing Race. It was successful because it makes situations more real for the students.
“Duane is providing that engaging material with the students having to treat patients in a real world situation (i.e. around the college campus),” explains Jubelius who was impressed with how active and immersive the scenarios were as well as the creativity. “How does that factor into what they have learned. They got a real taste of what it was like.”
Jubelius says this Amazing Race event differed from the previous two with various scenarios and they tried hard to incorporate other departments. The other thing was the students didn’t know they were going to do this. They have all been intensely studying for and writing exams. Being told they were competing in this event literally moments later was a complete shock.
“The surprise was planned because keeping the students uninformed is all part of the culture with paramedics — you don’t know where you are going minute-to-minute,” explains Jubelius. “The real word doesn’t function that way.”
“We've been stressing a lot with exams, up late, we walked in as soon as we were told we were doing (the Amazing Race scenario) it was a great stress release,” adds Chollak. “It went good. You’ll never have that perfect call, but it’s always what you want to strive for — to get that perfect call.”
“During the race, you’re stressed because of exams and studying, but then you’re doing it and there’s no stress. Everything that you’ve learned is just flowing out of my mind. (My) brain really got going,” added Yaremchuk. “It was exhilarating. You’re doing practical work, but you’ll never know it all. I looked back at that and looked back at how we’ve all progressed since then.”
The progression has impressed Yaremchuk and his two friends. The program involves starting out with getting a first-aid certificate, but then it works into becoming a paramedic.With the high-demand in the profession, it is a given they will all be guaranteed jobs. After the course is done they have earned a title which includes an anatomy and psychological component to it. Instead of getting a first-aid certificate, then an Emergency Responder title and then an Emergency Responder Technician, it is all combined and then some.
This is exactly why Yaremchuk, who was born in Medicine Hat, but moved to Lethbridge so his wife could get her teaching degree, actually made it a point to move back to Medicine Hat.He wanted to complete this MHC program. They are now settled here.
“I’m not here for a job, I’m here for a career,” Yaremchuk explains. “The instructors are all tops in not only their fields, (and) not only the community, but in the province. The biology, the psychology ... for example anatomy — Dr. Elizabeth Obrian is amazing.They are all top-notch.”
Eisenbarth says he looked back at what he could learn from the scenarios in which he has been involved. He knows he made the right decision coming to the college’s paramedic program having graduated from Eagle Butte High School. He initially was going to become a heavy-duty mechanic, but put his name in to get into the program and was accepted.
“I’ve wanted to do this since Grade 9,” says Eisenbarth who acknowledges it’s a gruelling course. “(I) came to try it out and now look ...”
Chollak moved to Medicine Hat specifically to take this program after hearing rave reviews. Friends tried to convince him to go to the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology but felt Medicine Hat was where he wanted to be.
“(I) moved here (and I’m) glad I did,” he adds. “They train you different here than other schools, that’s a good thing.”

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor