MCC paramedic students practice new skills with full-scale crash simulation

CRYSTAL LAKE — McHenry County College Lead Paramedic Instructor Brandy Weirich said the blustery conditions Saturday morning would provide an even more realistic experience for her students.

MCC paramedic students and firefighters and paramedics from several McHenry County agencies simulated a head-on crash between two cars around 9 a.m. Saturday in a campus parking lot.

"This is about as real as we can get it for the students," said Weirich, who is a registered nurse. "It’s nerve-wracking for them.”

The students and professionals ran through the simulation four times to give each student the opportunity to lead an operation. The scene consisted of a four-door car with four teenagers who were not wearing seat belts that had struck a minivan carrying a parent and two children.

"The goal of today is for these students really to assess the situation, be the team leader and treat the patients’ injuries with the inclement weather – that’s going to throw some curve balls in it,” Weirich said.

Crews would gather around each vehicle and assess how to enter it and extract those inside safely. Two teens were partially ejected from the car, and those in the minivan were also injured. After the patients were removed, the teams would work together to assess and pretend to take them to area hospitals.

Weirich's 21 students needed six months of experience as licensed Emergency Medical Technicians before they could take her class, which lasts almost a year. Weirich said the course is fast-paced, and the crash simulation was part of its trauma unit.

The students, who come from across McHenry County, including Spring Grove, Richmond, Woodstock and Marengo, also participate in other simulations throughout the course.

“We do a lot of them indoor here at MCC throughout the year, but by far this is the biggest one with actual cars and things like that,” Weirich said.

Most students want to become full-time firefighter-paramedics somewhere. One wants to become a transport flight paramedic.

“We train them and give them the best opportunity to put it altogether in a situation like today, so that when they go out in the real world, they’re a little more prepared,” Weirich said.

MCC offers degrees for both EMTs and firefighters.

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