Through a joint effort with the Army National Guard, students pursuing a degree in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) at NOVA’s Medical Education Campus (MEC) are learning how to provide critical care for trauma patients through aero-medical emergency training.
For the past three semesters, EMS Instructor Gary Sargent has invited his former student Christopher Miller, with the District of Columbia National Guard Aviation, to demonstrate proper MEDEVAC training to students in his EMS 207: Advanced Patient Assessment course. Miller, a 2015 NOVA graduate, along with soldiers from his unit, routinely offers a two-day interactive 45-minute demonstration to EMS students as part of their “trauma day” instruction. Typically the class begins with students awaiting the arrival of a UH-72A Lakota or UH-60A/L Black Hawk helicopter to land on the front lawn of the MEC. After students take a look inside the light utility helicopter, Miller educates them on the procedures and best practices involved in conducting real-life medical evacuations and patient transfers.
“Every single paramedic student will encounter helicopters in their careers,” Miller said. “They will be expected to identify landing zones, know how to properly package their patients accordingly, know when to call MEDEVAC as well as learn how to ride safely in a helicopter. Any exposure students receive from this type of training will prepare them for any circumstances they will experience in the medical profession.”
Miller received an associate of science degree in EMS from NOVA in Spring 2015. Prior to teaching courses through NOVA’s Workforce Development program, he now works as an adjunct EMS instructor at the MEC. Miller said the United States Army recently mandated that all of its flight paramedics become nationally registered in their field. Since 2014, the NOVA alum has collaborated with the College to assist in enrolling military flight paramedics into the Medical Education Campus’ EMS program.
“NOVA is the only institution where we have this unique type of relationship,” Miller said. “I believe NOVA has excellent programs to offer students, and the MEC has a great facility that offers all the training and equipment needed for students in medical programs, such as EMS. The MEC has a nice array of instructors that come from different walks of EMS careers, so students have a good pool of knowledge to learn from. Since the National Guard has a relationship with NOVA, we have fulfilled the request to speak with EMS students for the past three semesters and we will continue to do so. As part of the National Guard, we are here to serve the community and this is a great outreach program, especially to a community dedicated to training our future EMS professionals.”
NOVA Spring 2017 graduate Claire Johnson said the exposure to aero-medical emergency training has enhanced her career for three years as a flight paramedic with the Army Reserve. As a former student in Sargent’s EMS 207 course, the NOVA graduate said she felt the hands-on demonstration helped her classmates to understand the logistics of transferring critical care patients.
“Being able to actually view and sit inside of a helicopter is a great way to get hands-on training for EMS students enrolled in the program,” Johnson said. “Students are able to see what they read in textbooks as well as what is being taught in the classroom. I enjoyed it because I was able to get the civilian side of training. It really helped me to gain a well-balanced approach of being a medical provider.”
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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.