A night at a ‘car crash’ with future paramedics

Date 13.07.2018

University of Northampton’s first year Foundation and BSc Paramedic Science students worked with Northamptonshire Fire Service for an ‘extrication scenario’, a re-enactment of what they could deal with during a road traffic collision. So what goes in to making the Paramedics of the future? Our Press Office answered the call and were at the scene to find out.

Did you know that some car air bags inflate in about 14 milliseconds?

It’s enough to do serious damage to anyone who happens to be in front of the person seated in the car, such as a Paramedic who is busy giving urgent care to their patient.

Knowing details like these is woven into the DNA of Paramedics, so learning about seemingly irrelevant things that can save their lives as well their patient’s, runs right through the course like a stick of Blackpool Rock.

The University’s Paramedic Science team have been working with the Northamptonshire Fire Service at Brixworth station for the past five years developing a Road Traffic Collision (RTC) scenario, a mock-up of a car crash with real cars and real emergency service teams and equipment.

This gives our students first-hand experience of what goes on inside and outside a car crash as they ‘extricate’ the passengers, how they operate as a team, how they lead a team and how to work cooperatively with other emergency services.

During a debriefing, which was detailed as the ‘rescue’ that followed, their roles were assigned. The students either played being patients, the Paramedic in charge or supporting members of the team.

They also found out more about the fire service and the role each of their team members’ play during an RTC and how to work with them. Communication, as you might expect, is the key, especially introducing yourself when you arrive at the scene.

This isn’t for the sake of politeness but saying who you are, what you will be doing at the scene and what you need from the Fire Service avoids confusion.

Given that real-life rescue tools were going to be used, they were instructed to use the phrase “for real” to indicate if they were uncomfortable and needed the exercise to stop.

Equally important, some students stood to the side as observers and were quizzed by Senior Lecturer Danielle Neighbour about how the team was doing, if they had missed anything and what they would do next.

And there was a lot to discuss. The scenario lasted just over half an hour, but the updates came in thick and fast as the ‘rescue’ swiftly evolved.

The actual ‘cutting’ of the car is a surprisingly delicate operation. Windows need to be taped up, the passengers need protective sheets placed over them and the heavy duty equipment (strangely quiet, despite being pneumatically powered) has to be used with the utmost care, given the amount of plastic and glass that could fly around at high velocity.

Successfully ‘rescued’, the team rounded off the day with a wash up, going through what they learned.

We’ll hand over to them for what they got out of the day:

Danielle Warde-Taylor comes from Derbyshire and commutes to and from Northampton to study: “We learn so much from these scenarios, getting really important hands-on experience as we do with our work placements.

“We go on work placements, after a couple of months after starting the course, observing and supporting during real ambulance call outs, so scenarios like this give us bags of extra knowledge.”

For more about Paramedic Science courses at the University of Northampton, see our website.