June 15th, 2024

HALO lands at college for triage training event

By ANNA SMITH on April 10, 2024.

Paramedic student Ina Old Shoes signals in the HALO 1 Air Ambulance at Medicine Hat College as part of a mock mass-casualty event training.--News Photo Anna Smith


Medicine Hat College paramedic students gathered outside on the north soccer field Monday for a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the HALO 1 Air Ambulance.

This is the second year the program has been able to bring in the helicopter, said program co-ordinator Scott Mullen.

“We do some training in the first year where they actually get a tour of the helicopter as part of their expanded scope in what they do as paramedics, so they understand that air ambulance can be part of it,” said Mullen. “But we were very fortunate to have a partnership with HALO last year and continue that, to have them land and be static for this event.”

First-year students took part in a mock mass-casualty event as part of the day’s training, with second-year students fulfilling the role of patients for a hypothetical tornado scenario. This culminated in student Ina Old Shoes signalling in the air ambulance to land on the field so students could run through scenarios regarding loading a patient into the HALO helicopter.

While she didn’t have expectations going into the experience, Old Shoes says she was surprised by the power of the wind generated by the helicopter blades.

“They kind of had mentioned a couple of things, like ‘there’s going to be a lot of wind that’s going to come in so you’re gonna want to shield yourself just to have a lot of protection because of the debris,'” said Old Shoes. “But once I was in there, and I was signalling it to land, it wasn’t until I saw the grass move and got down on one knee that I really understood the power it had. I almost lost my footing.”

Student Andrea Heckley participated this year as a mock patient, and added that she believes it’s deeply important for students to have this opportunity to become comfortable approaching the helicopter, as they may have to do so in their careers in the future.

“I did participate last year, it was a bit of a surprise when they did it the first time,” said Heckley. “They couldn’t really surprise us this year, but the weather is much better.”

The goal of the day was focused primarily on building competencies surrounding triage and decision making in the mass casualty lab, said Mullen, but being able to have HALO land at the college was valuable and really helped build enthusiasm for the day as the first-year teams ran through scenarios with their fake high acuity patient.

“There were multiple patients with different injuries,” said Mullen. “They had to triage them, and there was a very serious patient who needed to go to hospital with head injuries, trouble breathing, and that’s when the helicopters called him or one of our students actually, and they actually dispatched into the site here.

“The goal is to give them some reality, some realistic situations that they’re gonna be faced with in their careers.”

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