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School of Medicine Greenville

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Emergency Medical Technician Training

The first in the country to do so, the UofSC School of Medicine Greenville requires first-year medical students to complete an emergency medical technician training course to certification. Students spend 12 hours each month serving the community as EMTs, who work in an environment requiring skills in communication, focused patient assessment, documentation and patient safety.

Throughout the program, students are required to keep patient logs and reflect on their experiences within the framework of the objectives of the Integrated Practice of Medicine modules, which expand their knowledge and skills in patient care towards competency as physicians. Furthermore, the early and ongoing experience as EMTs provides students the exposure and awareness of the many challenges and issues facing healthcare delivery, and serves as an experiential basis for proposing a patient-centered research project.

For the past five years, the UofSC School of Medicine Greenville and Prisma Health–Upstate (formerly Greenville Health System) have hosted an annual community emergency preparedness exercise as a culmination of the medical students' EMT training. The event tests the readiness of local emergency responders through realistic simulations of life-threatening events and is a culmination of the students' training. The drills, made possible by a grant from The Fluor Foundation, bring together law enforcement, fire and rescue, emergency medical services, hospital staff and medical students as they work together to assist patients and protect the community. To enhance the experience, organizers go to great lengths to capture the sights and sounds of actual emergency situations. Past exercises have included actors in makeup posing as distraught patients, armed hostage-takers and car-wreck victims. The details of the exercises are kept secret from the students and the first responder participants.

The annual event is the brainchild of Dr. Thomas Blackwell, who directs the medical school’s EMT training program. 

“EMT training provides students with basic clinical skills but also teaches them how to work as part of a healthcare team and how to communicate in tense situations,” said Blackwell.  “The full-scale emergency operations exercise serves as invaluable training for our students as well as local emergency and law enforcement agencies. We strive to make the scenarios as realistic as possible to replicate the stress and intensity of real disasters and give our students an appreciation for the skills they will use as first responders and future physicians.”  

Special thanks to The Fluor Foundation for their grant which makes the drill possible each year!

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