Nursing students at Southwestern Adventist University now have the opportunity to participate in ride-alongs with the Keene Fire Department.
The two entities recently entered into an agreement for those students to practice basic medical training alongside firefighters. It mirrors the collaboration they already have with local EMT students.
After participating in a disaster drill with SWAU last year, Keene Fire Chief Dan Warner said he wanted to give nursing students the same opportunity as EMT students.
Each student can do up to 24 hours with the department, 12 hours at a time, as part of their population health course to earn their bachelor’s degree, SWAU nursing associate professor Terri Gibson said.
“My role as a community health professor is to help them understand who is coming to the hospital,” Gibson said. “What is their family situation? What are the other things going on in their life not only coming into the hospital but as they discharge from the hospital?”
When students are not answering calls, they’re learning more about different medical practices.
“When the students come in, my job is to observe and guide them in the direction they’re suppose to practice,” KFD paramedic Bobby Metcalf said. “Pre-hospital care is different than in-hospital care. We determine life threats and go from there. If there’s no life threats, we just monitor.”
Medical care out in the field is very different compared to in a hospital setting, Warner said.
“Medical care in a hospital, that’s in a controlled setting,” he said. “Whereas pre-hospital care you’re in somebody’s living room or bedroom or in some cases their bedroom. You deal with all of that.”
SWAU nursing student Josephat Akuma said before he moved to Texas from Kenya, he took care of his grandmother and wanted to know more about the nursing field.
“I think it’s very good,” Akuma said about the program. “There are some things we see in a hospital setting, but we don’t connect where they come from. They take care of the patient before they come to the hospital. They do a lot.”
KFD Capt. Blaine Stroud said he thinks this program will soon become the standard across the country.
“In reality, I think it’s going to make these guys so much more well-rounded for what they do,” Stroud said. “Every call is different. Just to know that, then they can understand why we do what we do. I think that’s half the battle too because you kind of get tunnel vision. I’m surprised that nursing hasn’t had this before because they’re going to come out of this thing a more well-rounded nurse.”
Gibson said she tries to remind her students they have a civic responsibility to help those in the community.
“The fact that we are nurses in our community, we need to contribute to our community,” she said. “We as nurses in our training and daily life need to have this understanding for caring for a family or helping in these arenas.
“We have these great skills. They should not only be reserved for the hospital setting. There are many more places we can use them.”
Warner thanked SWAU and the city of Keene for their collaboration in putting together this program.