Several area high school students were given the opportunity to put their newly learned medical skills to the test during a Mass Casualty Incident Drill on Oct. 29. 

The MCI Drill was hosted by the Taney County Ambulance District at The Joint Educational Training Center at the Ballparks of America complex in Branson. 

The participating students were a part of The Greater Ozarks Centers for Advanced Professional Studies, or GoCAPS, medical program, which is sponsored by Branson High School and includes high school students from Branson, Hollister, Reeds Spring and Spokane, according to a press release. 

The drill itself featured a simulated head-on, two-vehicle crash that resulted in more than a dozen patients needing varying levels of emergency medical care. Working alongside TCAD Paramedics, the GoCAPS students provided treatment to the patients, which were comprised of actors from Ozark Technical Community College, and mannequins.

“Over the past couple months they’ve been taking different classes, learning different skills that would be used in an emergency setting, such as CPR, bleeding control, airway management, triage and those kind of skills,” said TCAD Clinical Manager Matthew Aumiller. “So hand-in-hand with our field people, they were able to perform some of the skills they have been learning in class.”

While mass casualty incident was only a drill, GoCAPS Branson Medicine and Healthcare Instructor Kristen Mills said her hope is that this drill will have a real-life impact on her students. 

“So, even though they’re able to learn those clinical skills, but being able to deliver those in a real life mass casualty scenario where emotions are high and stress is high, it’s a very different application than if you’re doing those clinical skills in a controlled setting,” said Mills. “(Tuesday) was an opportunity for them to really experience first hand, what would it be like to work in a pre-hospital setting and to triage and treat patients from a car wreck like they experienced yesterday?”

Aumiller added that since there is only so much you can teach someone in a classroom, it’s important for students to experience these drills.

“Several of them stated that it was eye opening, and we threw them in the deep end, basically. They don’t get to learn everything (in the classroom),” Aumiller said. “They don’t get to deal with the live patients and how they interact and that kind of stuff. It really solidifies that knowledge and experience.”

The drill also served as a way for the 17 students in the GoCAPS program to showcase their new medical skills in front of a number of their fellow high school students who are also interested in the GoCAPS program. Aumiller said that, overall, the students all met their objectives and everybody had a good learning experience.

“I think it was a great success. We actually slowed it down from a real life situation, so that everybody would get the opportunity to do some stuff,” said Aumiller. “Normally we would actually be moving those patients quite a bit quicker, but we wanted everybody to have the opportunity to get engaged and to see portions of it, as well as potential students in the future that were there observing the drill.”

Mills said she felt the drill was a success and that the training the students have done thus far is just one part of the GoCAPS learning experience.

“This is a year-long program, and we’re only about two months in. So students are kind of fresh and the clinical skills that they’ve covered with the program,” said Mills. “It’s a completely different scenario when you’re going in and having to treat a patient as a whole, and you’re not certain of where to start. So I think it was successful in allowing students to see the reality of a mass causality and also identifying other skills that they’ve yet to learn with this program.”

Students were also given the opportunity to work alongside members of the Branson Fire & Rescue Department, who used an extrication tool and other fire tools to remove two patients from one of the crashed vehicles. 

Next up, Mills said the students will be looking at healthcare in the terms of how a patient might experience it during their treatment. With that in mind, students will begin learning about the ER, orthopedics, lab work, radiology and other areas that support those departments before moving on to inpatient, outpatient, primary and specialty healthcare. 

Other students who are a part of the GoCAPS program have the opportunity to learn in other areas including business, IT and engineering, according to the release. Those students also get to learn from and are mentored by industry professionals, while earning high school and/or college credits.

Visit gocaps.yourcapsnetwork.org.

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