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Instructor retraining EMT soldiers

By Zach Colick
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 21, 2005
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Before being sent to Iraq in 2003, an instructor for the UA's Paramedic Program saw that military and contract firefighters and Army medics needed an emergency medical training refresher course to maintain their EMT certification before heading to war in Iraq.

That man was Senior Master Sgt. Shane Clark, a former instructor for the UA Paramedic Program.

Clark, a fire chief of the Arizona Air National Guard 162nd Fighter Wing, helped set up a one-time, four-weekend refresher course for certified EMTs who needed the further study to be prepared for what they would encounter during the war.

With the help of Wanda Larson, a paramedic program director at the Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center, the course covered all the EMT National Registry criteria. The tutorial included didactic sessions, practical skills and a final examination, which taught the medics how to limit immobilization, assess injuries and treat others for shots, Larson said.

The class provided instructional support to train nine U.S. Air Force and Army firefighters, two U.S. Army medics and one contract firefighter, who received the continuing education required to keep their certification. Other EMTs and paramedics also attended for continuing education, according to a press release.

"It has allowed them to acquire the necessary refresher training, and in turn I hope they are able to provide better treatment to their patients," Clark said.

In addition to the continuing education, Clark said the Army and Air Force medics learned how to work within an Incident Command System as a joint force team.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Web site, an ICS is a standardized on-scene incident management concept designed specifically for managing multi-jurisdictional responses to oil spills or hazardous substance releases.

The refresher course is a small piece of the AEMRC and Emergency Medicine Services training program.

Larson said the paramedic students commit to completing more than 64 college credits, more than 1,200 hours of classroom, clinical and vehicular time, in a 10-month accelerated learning environment curriculum. The entire program culminates in an opportunity for on-site national testing, she said.

Established by the Arizona Board of Regents in 1990, the AEMRC is a center of excellence at the UA College of Medicine. The mission of the AEMRC is the advancement of research, education and training in emergency medicine concerns, according to a press release.

Clark said the paramedic program has given the military medics more than an educational tool. He said the medics feel proud their education is being put to use in real life situations and said the program has brought the group closer together.

"(It's helped) build a relationship between soldiers and airmen that never worked together before and now work together everyday," Clark said. "This is another way that AEMRC is reaching out to the community, or in this case, our military, serving in a country trying to free others."

Clark said the EMT refresher course is unique and one-of-a-kind for this area and said he is proud to be a part of something this innovative and edifying.

"Locally, this was the first one," he said. "The Army medical corps is now coordinating additional courses. Each branch of service has programs; there just wasn't one available at this location, so I offered it."

Clark said he plans on returning to the UA to teach paramedic courses in the future once he returns home from Iraq next month.

"These students need the continuing education and I hope to provide the forum to help them accomplish this," Clark said.

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