Local News

Sep 8, 2010 9:27 PM by Ariel Wesler

EMS program uses high tech ambulance simulator

The Emergency Medical Services program at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria has some state of the art technology you won't find at other schools.

The program takes a hands-on approach to learning through technology. It's an impacted program and instructors say the demand continues to grow as people look for jobs in this economy or change careers.


The room is practically a sound stage and the star is this high tech and fully functional ambulance simulator.

"You can feel that as we're going over bumps," said EMS Program Director Michael Messina. It's as real as it gets without leaving the building.

"The patient's been shot times three with no results. Our ETA out is about five minutes," Messina called out.

The patient is a $65,000 mannequin and Hancock is the only EMS program in the state to use it.

While the students are bouncing around in the simulator, the instructors are in another room, controlling the mannequin's every move, from bleeding to heart rate.

"You can only learn so much pretending. Then, you need to listen to lung sounds that aren't there," Messina said.

Outside the simulator, students test their skills on the Emergency Vehicle Operations Course--the only one of its kind from LA to Santa Rosa.

Instructors say the class is run as an academy, where teamwork is critical, but becoming part of the team is a fierce competition.

"We accept 35, we typically will get over 100 applicants," Messina.

The class can take its toll and about 15 percent students drop out.

"We definitely already assembled study groups and it's really intensive studying," said Jennifer Beyer, who started the program this semester.

A mix of memorization and hands-on training students say makes all the difference when seconds can mean the difference between life and death.

Students who complete the 16 week course are eligible to take the test to become a Certified Emergency Medical Technician. Instructors say typical E.M.T. salaries range from 35 to $55,000.

Hancock College also offers a two-year Associates Degree in Emergency Medical Services.

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