Area emergency medical workers compete in a critical care competition on Tuesday. The Santa Fe College Kirkpatrick Center and Institute of Public Safety hosted the competition for area emergency responders. The event kicks off EMS week. Teams competed for bragging rights and prizes.
Responding to a medical emergency involves teamwork — and those teams enjoy competition when they get a chance.
That chance came Tuesday at a scenario-based competition staged by the University of Florida's ShandsCair.
"Fire rescue as a whole is very competitive. The best way to get fire rescue involved in anything is to make it competitive," said Joe Pompa, a rescue attendant for Alachua County Fire Rescue. "This was a great experience. The focus was to do the most aggressive treatment immediately."
Competing were seven teams of emergency medical personnel from rescue agencies from as far as Temple Terrace, near Tampa. Also participating was a team of emergency department staff from Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala.
The teams were given accident scenarios to which they responded as if it were a real incident. People pretended to be injured; a few even had smears of fake blood.
Professionals judged the teams on accuracy and speed. The crews received points for performing tasks such as checking pulses, properly assessing injuries, clearing airways and treating appropriately, said Gwen Howard, chief flight nurse for ShandsCair.
Some scenarios had multiple victims. In triage, the dead were given black tags, while the critically injured — those needing the most attention — were given red tags.
In another scenario, it appeared the victim was a bicycle rider who had been hit, but it turned out the car driver also was having medical issues.
"There are certain things they have to do on an EMS call. We look for whether they treat appropriately and make the correct decisions," Howard said. "This was our first time with a contest, and we think it will be valuable to the participants."
Nancy Burgess, emergency department manager at Munroe Regional, said the event is a great learning tool. She added that the staff primarily work in the hospital but must deal with many of the emergencies that EMS personnel experience.
Burgess said the competition should sharpen the skills of the staff who participated.
"They run through many things that we see — what do you do, how do you correct it? Just looking at the patient and determining what the first step should be," Burgess said. "You have to really use good assessment skills to figure out what's going on and how to correct it."