(Delaware and Chester Counties, PA)Eighteen students from Delaware and Chester Counties in Delaware County Community College’s Emergency Medical Services program had an opportunity yesterday to receive hands-on training in simulated rescues of injured people via helicopter ambulance and with the help of state-of-the-art hydraulic extrication rescue tools. 

JeffSTAT’s air ambulance pilot Grant Marostica, paramedic Kale Etchberger and flight registered nurse James Tunnessen flew one of the helicopters used by Jeff Stat Critical Care Transport onto the College’s baseball diamond and gave students a first-hand demonstration of how an air ambulance is used to help transport injured or sick patients to hospitals quickly and safely. In the afternoon, the JeffSTAT air ambulance team provided demonstrations and answered questions for the College’s seven EMS-100 day-class students. The JeffSTAT crew returned in the evening to provide instruction and answer questions from the College’s eleven EMS-100 night-class students.

Both day and night students also received hands-on training in one of the College’s nearby parking lots from Broomall Fire Company’s Rescue 53 firefighters. The students learned how to use life-saving tools, such as the Holmatro extrication rescue tool system, to save an injured person trapped in a damaged automobile. Under the watchful eyes of the College’s Christopher Millay, Interim Director of Emergency Services Education, Melinda Price, Emergency Services Coordinator, and Paramedic Coordinator/Broomall Fire Company Lieutenant Tim Capuzzi, as well as other firefighters and instructors, the students extracted a manikin from one of two wrecked vehicles brought to the campus for the EMS demonstration lab.

Millay said the idea of having the lab demonstrations was “to increase the students’ understanding and to provide a more real-world experience.” Also, because the College’s Emergency Medical Technician curriculum requires the students learn about setting up a landing zone for medical helicopters, Millay said the College worked with Jefferson Health to arrange for the JeffStat Air Ambulance visit, allowing “the students’ learning experience to be greatly enhanced, providing them with the ability to observe an actual landing, as well as have the students review the apparatus rather than just reading about it in their textbooks.”

Delaware County Community College offers associate degree programs in paramedic-advanced life support and emergency management & planning, as well as a 40-credit paramedic certificate program. The College also offers tuition assistance through the Kelleher Connect Career Opportunity Fund, administered by the College’s Educational Foundation. EMS-100 day students included Julia Barry, Kayla Droxler, Hannah Longaker, Alexea Patton, Benjamin Prysock, Nisjir Saunders and Kevin Soeung. EMS-100 evening students included Daniel Gauzza, Cameron Hazlett, Kara Lacianca, Skyler-Marie Lane, Ethan Lash, Danielle Link, Lavneet Sangha, Garrett Thompson, Tuong Tran, Ayanna Williams and Diya Zeus.

By providing emergency services training, Delaware County Community College is addressing a critical need in Pennsylvania. For decades, the Commonwealth’s emergency medical service system has been in crisis. “Fire and EMS are in a crisis—right now. Simply put, EMS is woefully lacking in funding—and the number of volunteer firefighters has fallen dramatically over the decades,” says a 2018 Pennsylvania Senate Resolution 6 report produced by a 39-member statewide commission that recommended changes, some of which were implemented throughout Pennsylvania. Nearly a quarter of Pennsylvania’s EMS agencies shut down between 2012 and 2018 due to budget and staffing shortfalls, according to an April 2020 story by Spotlight PA, an investigative reporting group led by The Philadelphia Inquirer. Recent federal funding is expected to help, but will not entirely correct, the state’s emergency medical services crisis, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.