[November 9, 2016 – Parker, CO] Over the course of a week, Rocky Vista University (RVU) collaborated with South Metro Fire Rescue (SMFR) to provide training, called Active Treat Exercises, in Centennial.
The collaboration between the rescue organization and the medical school began in July. Training Lieutenant Ryan Shelton of SMFR read research about simulation training which had been conducted by Anthony LaPorta, MD, FACS, Course Director of RVU’s Military Track. Mr. Shelton, on a whim, visited the RVU campus where he met the rest of the surgery simulation team. “RVU wanted to support the training because keeping SMFR well-trained in the event of a mass casualty event is very important to the community,” said David Ross, DO, FACEP, Associate Director of Military Track.
Due to an increasing number of active shooter situations throughout the country, there is an urgent need for medical personnel to treat and extract patients from still-dangerous environments. The Active Treat Exercises brought together EMT-Basics and Paramedics with law enforcement officers in a mock shooter drill. The scenario presented to the first responders was that a shooter had opened fire in an office setting, wounding several people. For each drill, officers led the way through the building, securing each room before letting the medical personnel enter and assess the victims.
Upon encountering a victim, EMT-Basics and Paramedics utilized tourniquets and quick clot to resolve bleeding (made possible with the use of cut suits and simulators). “The greatest avoidable mortality from blast and penetration injuries is hemorrhage control,” said Mr. Shelton. “For our first responders, this requires a shift in tactics: quickly gain access to patients despite lack of an ‘all clear’ from law enforcement. Law enforcement personnel [must] provide cover and achieve threat suppression, while bringing medical personnel in to [help] patients simultaneously.”
Drs. LaPorta and Ross provided special training to the EMTs and Paramedics on performing chest needle decompressions and crichothyrotomies (surgically creating an airway in the patient’s neck). Additionally, their team helped stage the exercises, providing wound simulations on the “victims” in order to make the training more realistic for the responders. Todd Parson, a fire fighter Paramedic who participated in the Active Treat Exercises said, “The instruction from the physician was, by far, the best I have ever received. [He] was excellent and I have more confidence after spending time with him.”
Along with SMFR medical personnel, there were several other jurisdictions involved with the training, including Cherry Hills, Douglas County Sheriff, Parker Police, Lone Tree, and a regional Impact Unit.
After the success of the Active Treat Exercise, RVU and SMFR are currently developing more training opportunities for the future. This includes a recent exercise involving the school’s Rural and Wilderness Medicine Track, in which SMFR Paramedics assisted medical students in treating simulated patients in Castlewood Canyon.