Mass. Firefighter-Paramedics Train for Water Emergencies
Wicked Local South/Mariner, Marshfield, Mass.
July 18—The patient was flat on his back, his breathing low and shallow. His eyelids opened, and then closed. Blood shoots from the wound in an arterial spray, as a first responder hastily applies a tourniquet.
This scene is not real, but part of an extensive training session that was held at the Scituate Harbormaster's station with members of the harbormaster's department, the Scituate Fire Department, and South Shore Hospital.
"Training is incredibly important," said Harbormaster Stephen Mone. "We need to be prepared for any emergency out on the water. We're here all the time and respond to a lot of calls."
About 20 people attended the training Thursday, July 12.
Like everything else, first responder training has become more high-tech.
The life-like "patient" who was in danger of bleeding to death was actually a high fidelity mannequin.
"It's wireless and can be put anywhere as part of a training exercise—at the bottom of a stairway, in a ditch," said Rich Kelly. "This provides very realistic training. He bleeds, he blinks, he talks, he breathes. He has a pulse. It's very life-like."
Kelly is a retired Scituate firefighter/paramedic who is now with the Scituate Harbormaster's office. He also handles the mobile simulation lab for special operations at South Shore Hospital.
Kelly "hides behind the scenes" and operates the mannequin.
"I can have the blood ooze out or pump it out like an arterial bleed," he said. "We can collapse a lung. We can do a lot of things to give a first responder as close of an experience to a real emergency as possible. It's designed to teach doctors, paramedics, nurses, firefighters—just about anyone out there."
The technology of the training is a huge improvement from the way training used to be conducted, said Assistant Harbormaster Mike Bearce.
"In years past we would basically hold a class in the garage," he said. "It was more like lecture style. Now it's hands-on, and there is new improved equipment that we use."
The mannequin is controlled by commands from a laptop.
"We can take it anywhere," Kelly said. "It's very convenient."
The harbormaster's office gets emergency calls about everything from a heart attack on a boat, to someone suffering heat stroke, to someone falling on the docks, to a child having an allergic reaction, and more.
The most common call, Bearce said, is about fish hooks in hands or legs.
Mone credits Kelly for not only providing high tech training, but for getting all the necessary emergency gear on the patrol boats.
"Rich has been instrumental in getting everything we need," Mone said. "Tourniquets are key. All of our boats have three or four tourniquets. If a propeller strikes an arm or a leg, you're going to need a tourniquet."
The mannequin was used in the training of tourniquet application, Kelly said.
"We had the blood oozing that needed to be stopped. It was very realistic."
Scituate Fire Department brought the Lucas machine, another high tech training tool. The Lucas machine is an automated device that assists in chest compression.
"A lot of people haven't seen one before," said Fire Captain Mark Donovan. "Now we have three units."
Continual training is imperative to keep everybody sharp, Donovan said.
"A lot of time the harbormaster will be the first on the scene, so it's good to keep everyone up to date, especially with new equipment."
The training session included CPR, automated external defibrillator, lacerations and punctures, applying tourniquets, trauma dressing, and quick clots.
The training session with the harbormaster is something Donovan said his department looks forward to.
"We don't often get the opportunity to work together," he said. "The growing popularity of boating, and being in the Scituate area, it's important to increase training."
The fire department also works with Kelly and the mobile simulation lab, Donovan said.
"They come out to the fire station a couple times a year for training."
The mannequin is always very popular, Kelly said.
"Everybody loves it. It definitely prepares people for a real life situation."