THE NEXT LEVEL - WCJC EMS program demonstrates top-of-the-line equipment at open house

April 05, 2023
THE NEXT LEVEL - WCJC EMS program demonstrates top-of-the-line equipment at open house

The Richmond Emergency Medical Services program's simulation room created a beachside tragedy of a drowned child. Taking part in the exercise are, from left, WCJC EMS Instructor Karl Johnson, student Georgia Hubbard of Columbus, student Dan Harrison of Edna and Ryan McLemore of Hallettsville.

RICHMOND, TEXAS – More than 100 guests attended a recent open house hosted by Wharton County Junior College’s Emergency Medical Services program, and what they saw was nothing short of amazing. From lifelike manikins to a vehicle extrication cage to a state-of-the-art Immersive Interactive Room, the program’s advanced training systems ensure students have the most realistic training possible.

“This technology is taking EMS education to the next level,” said WCJC EMS Director Gary Bonewald.

The college secured $500,000 for the various upgrades through the Texas Reskilling and Upskilling for Education (TRUE) Institutional Capacity Grants, a state-sponsored program. The college covered 25 percent – some $125,000 – of the grant’s cost sharing/match requirements. The grant covered several key upgrades at the Richmond campus, including an ambulance simulator, roll cage, advanced manikins and the interactive simulation room.

During the open house, visitors were introduced to the simulation room, which uses projectors to create stunning, life-like environments. Students performed a battery of skills while the room was changed from a beachside scene to the hustle and bustle of New York’s Times Square.

“Without leaving campus we can take the students anywhere in the world to a scene where they need to deal with various emergency situations,” Bonewald said.

Other training devices included lifelike appendages used for starting intravenous injections. Carson Morales of Bay City, Matthew Martinez of Sugar Land and John Henry Starns of Houston all practiced on various body parts, explaining to visitors the intricacies of these particular techniques. All three said the devices have improved their skills.  

“I used to really hate starting an I-V,” said Starns, who is training to be a Level 2 Paramedic. “Now, I am much better at it and don’t mind it at all.”

On one table were several highly detailed manikin heads, eyes open with bushy eyebrows and mottled skin.   Though appearing like props in a horror movie, the devices are actually quite useful, adding another layer of realism to already-purchased manikins or even to live trainers.

“These heads allow us to transition between ages and genders. We get more mileage out of our manikins,” said EMS Instructor Anthony Scopel. “The more realistic we make it in training, the more prepared they are for the real world.”

Bonewald credited his students and instructors with putting in the time and energy to connect with the new training opportunities. He further thanked college administration and members of the EMS advisory committee for attending the open house. On hand were WCJC President Betty McCrohan, all the college’s vice-presidents and several administrators and members of the faculty.

“We had a huge show of support,” Bonewald said. “We had some area EMS providers attend and discuss future educational opportunities they could have with the college. We also had several people who will be entering the program in the future due to this open house.”