Since the start of classes in August, 100 first-year medical students at the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine have been training as emergency medical technicians (EMTs), working shifts on Northwell Health ambulances, and responding to 911 calls. In fact, Hofstra Northwell is the first institution nationwide to establish a curriculum that trains students to become EMTs starting day one of medical school.
As a test of emergency know-how, the Class of 2020 recently spent a day at the Randall’s Island Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) Training Academy to participate in a Multiple Casualty Incident (MCI) day in which students were expected to provide emergency care during several different disaster exercises. In its fifth year, MCI day for Hofstra Northwell students is coordinated by the FDNY Training Academy, where more than 2,000 firefighters and EMS personnel are trained each year.
“Thanks to the generosity of the FDNY, our students are provided with an exciting and invaluable experience during their first weeks and year of medical school,” said Dr. Thomas Kwiatkowski, assistant dean for simulation and professor of emergency medicine. “In a near-realistic setting, students are exposed to large-scale catastrophic scenarios and given a chance to practice their EMT skills in the rescue, triage, and treatment of patients.”
Simulated mass-casualty events at the training center included a subway catastrophe, terrorist bus bombing, car accident and an incident on a ship. Each situation incorporated the sights and sounds of a real-life disaster, complete with smoke, darkness, fire, sirens, screams and chaotic noise pumped into the scene, all choreographed to test a participant’s ability to employ emergency skills and work efficiently under pressure. Every student had an opportunity to perform each exercise as an EMT and a victim. The students also learned to use the Jaws of Life rescue tool and how to protect and decontaminate following biological or chemical exposure.
“Each situation was surprisingly real and chaotic,” said Adam Goldstein, a first-year medical student and a graduate of Yeshiva University. “What we’ve learned in the school’s EMT curriculum has prepared us for this process and reality–you have to be well trained and know the skills to stay calm and focused through adversity.”
Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine would like to extend special thanks to FDNY firefighters, emergency personnel and staff for giving of their time, expertise, and service in support of medical student education.