lewisburg — The loud crack of metal twisting, the sharp clink of glass shattering and the hydraulic buzz of rescue tools in action filled the air at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine’s (WVSOM) fourth annual automobile extrication demonstration.
The event, which took place Oct. 1 on the school’s campus in Lewisburg, was intended to show osteopathic medical students the steps emergency personnel take when freeing passengers after an accident. WVSOM’s Wilderness Medicine Club, Emergency Medicine Club and Rural Health Initiative program sponsored the demonstration, with students serving as accident victims trapped inside a Chevrolet 4x4 and a Ford Mustang.
Organizations that helped stage the event included HealthNet Aeromedical Services, the Lewisburg Volunteer Fire Department, Fairlea Volunteer Fire Department, White Sulphur Springs Emergency Medical Services, Anthony’s Truck Repair & Towing and the West Virginia State Police.
Second-year WVSOM student Trevor Toussieng, president of the school’s Wilderness Medicine Club, said the experience provided an example of the kind of knowledge that can’t be taught in class.
“Those of us who are trying to be physicians spend a lot of time with our heads in books, so we don’t always understand what goes on outside the hospital,” he said. “For us to see what EMS, fire departments and air medical services do in order to bring a patient to us was an invaluable experience.”
During the two extrications, the victims were covered with sheets to protect them from debris. First responders showed students how to instantly break small windows, use a Glas-Master tool to cut through large ones and use the Jaws of Life to remove a vehicle’s roof and doors. Workers then helped students move one of the victims to a backboard and hydraulic stretcher and place him in a medical helicopter.
Before the extrications, fire department personnel arranged wooden beams into a tower for a Jenga-like game that allowed students to practice using the Jaws of Life. Students took turns using the tool to remove one piece at a time without causing a collapse.
White Sulphur Springs Emergency Medical Services employees trained students to safely place a person on a backboard for support during transport. Dr. Gregory Spears, of Greenbrier Valley Medical Center, instructed students in proper intubation techniques before having them practice the procedure using task trainers, which are models of specific body parts used for educational purposes. He explained that because the anatomy of the trachea can differ from one person to another, intubation can only be mastered through hands-on experience.