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A new level of treatment
POULSBO—Typically, they handle taping ankles and applying bandages. Now, the athletic medicine students at North Kitsap are learning how to treat injuries during a disaster.
The 16 athletic medicine students are the first in Kitsap trained in disaster relief so they can assist emergency response teams.
In the case of an emergency during school hours, the students will be expected to provide emergency assistance to firefighters and other response teams, applying what they learned in the classroom to help injured victims.
“Only good things can come from this,” said junior athletic medicine student April McCabe. “We have learned so much from this.”
Disaster reservist Cynthia Jose and Poulsbo Fire Battalion Chief Jeffery Russell took the students through an evening of training before the Kitsap Rumble, a county-wide disaster drill on Sept. 22. The students participated in the drill outside the North Kitsap Auditorium, where they put their training to use.
A committee for disaster response, which was assembled to analyze the drill for the North Kitsap School District, approached athletic medicine instructor Chris Franklin to gauge his interest in student participation. In the past, Franklin discussed the possibility.
“When the district approached me about this I was immediately like ‘Hey, I’m in,’” Franklin said.
When the students signed up for athletic training this year, they did not know they would be involved, but Franklin said everyone showed enthusiasm for the opportunity, he said.
Because the students already have a background in treating injuries, Jose and Russell were able to give them a more focused training. The training included identifying and setting up proper safety areas and triaging, Jose said.
Triaging is a sorting method used by emergency responders to filter injuries based on seriousness. There are three categories of injuries the students were taught to identify: minor, delayed, and immediate. Victims are tagged with colored tape so their condition is easily identified.
Some students had difficulty waiting to treat injured victims during the drill, because they are used to treating sports injuries immediately. Watching firefighters bring injured students out of the auditorium made junior athletic medicine student Abbey Swanson nervous, because they never knew what was coming, she said.
“In football we just run on to the field and start treating injuries immediately, but this was different,” Swanson said. “(During the drill) we just put tape on them and were instructed to wait until everyone was pulled out of the building.”
The students are now trained just like teachers in the first response team, except for proper building evacuation techniques, Jose said. They were not trained in evacuation because the students are not allowed to participate in rescuing people from hazardous areas.
“This is a great experience for them, no matter what field they decide to go into after school,” said athletic medicine instructor Chris Franklin.
Even though the students are not professionals, Jose is confident the students will perform well under pressure, she said. In times of crisis, people have a tendency to block out emotions, at least until things calm down, but during a real emergency the students would probably have to help their own friends, she said.
“It would be unnerving to have to see family or friends in a situation like that,” McCabe said. “But I think we could handle it.”