A life-and-death demo

April 18, 2005|by DON AINES

MONT ALTO, PA. - After being cut from the wreckage of a mangled sedan Sunday afternoon, Amy Reed pronounced the experience "eerie."

"I was the patient, and I hope to never be in that situation," said the Mont Alto deputy ambulance chief, who usually is on the other side of such life-and-death situations.

About 30 people sitting in bleachers at the Penn State Mont Alto campus watched as rescue personnel demonstrated how someone is extricated from the twisted steel of an automobile wreck. The demonstration was part of National Alcohol Prevention Month activities at the campus, according to Carranda Barkdoll, a member of the nursing faculty at the school and chairwoman of its Partners for Prevention Committee.


"They put an EMS provider in the vehicle with the patient to evaluate and stabilize the patient," Mont Alto Fire Chief Mark Garling explained to onlookers. He said the amount of time needed to get someone out of a vehicle and to a hospital depends on the severity of the damage to the car.

The rescue personnel used a hydraulic combination tool designed to cut through metal or pry it open. It this case, the crew cut through the roof posts of the car and peeled it back to get to Reed.

After being lifted onto a gurney, Reed was rolled from the wreck to a waiting Life Lion helicopter, which landed nearby as part of the demonstration.

Sometimes, Garling said, "it's as easy as popping off a door" to get a patient out. Other times, crews have to carefully cut through wreckage twisted around the person to avoid injuring them further.

"We were on one the other week that took 50 minutes to get the patient out," he told the group, made up mostly of adults and children with a few members of the target audience of college students.

Student Kevin Kellar was impressed by the professionalism of the crews. Firefighters and ambulance personnel from Mont Alto, South Mountain, Pa., Waynesboro, Pa., Waynesboro Hospital and the Life Lion helicopter from Carlisle, Pa., were present.

"When you see something like this, it's amazing where the training can take you," said Kellar, who has taken the basic-level emergency responders course.

"Unfortunately, college kids are pretty apathetic," Barkdoll said.

The Partnership for Prevention has several events this month to make students more aware of the dangers of abusing alcohol, Barkdoll said.

Farrah Irving, a resident coordinator at the campus, said those include "beer goggles," which demonstrate how alcohol affects vision and perception, and a "virtual bar."

The virtual bar, actually a computer program, demonstrates to students how much and how quickly alcohol can affect their bodies, whether it is beer, wine, mixed drinks or grain alcohol, and whether they "sip it, drink it or slam it," Irving said.

Depending on that potable equation, along with the person's height and weight, the computer calculates the hypothetical blood alcohol level from inebriation to fatal levels, she said.

Barkdoll said Partners for Prevention also offers alternatives to traditional collegiate spring break activities, including trips in March for students interested in public service projects in Virginia Beach, Va., and Jamaica.

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