PLAINS TWP. — Students from three area high schools Wednesday operated a vehicle while being impaired and saved a man’s life — all of it, of course, was simulated, but nonetheless a valuable learning experience.
Students from Coughlin, Hanover Area and Dallas participated in Geisinger Wyoming Valley’s Healthcare Career Awareness program to experience what it’s like to work in several health care fields. The goal of the program is to help students decide what career path they may choose after high school.
Jack Lasky, EMS coordinator at GWV, got things started by teaching the students how to work as a team while using an AED machine and performing CPR on “SimMan” — a patient simulator.
One by one the students approached SimMan and helped resuscitate him. Lasky said SimMan had been shopping at the mall and collapsed, needing immediate CPR.
“Each compression must be two inches,” Lasky said to the students. “Don’t stop, keep going — that’s what will keep SimMan alive.”
Lasky asked each student if they found it difficult to keep repeating the compressions. All of them said the exercise did tire them out.
“If you do CPR for two minutes, you will be beat,” he said. “It’s exhausting.”
When asked if they could perform CPR if they had to, all of the students said they could.
“Anything you can do is better than doing nothing,” Lasky said.
And in the end, SimMan came back — registering a pulse on the electronic screen.
“They saved him,” Lasky said.
Andrew Grabowski, 17, a junior at Dallas, did well on his turn at SimMan. Lasky said would hope Grabowski is around if he ever needs CPR.
“It was a great experience,” Grabowski said. “I think I could do compressions on someone. I really believe I could save someone’s life.”
Grabowski said he is still deciding what his career path will be — anything from becoming an anesthesiologist to learning to be a welder.
“I learned a lot here today,” he said. “It opened my eyes to careers in the medical field. Now I know what it takes to work in health care.”
Across the room, Claudia Leu and Samantha Banks, both 17 and both from Dallas, were taking it all in. They had taken their turns at doing compressions on SimMan.
While Leu is considering a career in health care, Banks is pretty certain she wants to be a coroner.
“At first I thought I wanted to be a surgeon,” Banks said. “But that’s a lot of pressure. I’d rather determine how people died.”
Banks said the Geisinger program made her feel she is making the right career choice.
After the emergency services session, the students learned about physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech pathology, trauma and pharmacy. Between sessions, students played medical terminology games and used stethoscopes to listen to each other’s hearts and lungs.
Mike Dimare, physical therapy supervisor at GWV, did a presentation on possible careers and then answered questions about what to expect in the field of therapy.
Peggy Austin, a trauma outreach nurse, did a presentation on distracted driving. The teens used goggles that simulate various stages and types of intoxication to navigate tasks. Austin offered some eye-opening statistics on teenage deaths and serious injuries due to accidents involving distracted or impaired drivers. Austin talked about the consequences that can result from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, texting on cell phones or performing simple tasks like combing one’s hair or eating.
Wearing the goggles, each student tried to negotiate through a small town. Almost all failed to make it to the pre-determined destination. Along the way, the students would laugh or chuckle as a student failed to stop at a stop sign, drove through a park or struck a pedestrian. They soon realized it was no laughing matter.
Kim Manganella, 17, a junior at Dallas, said she enjoyed the entire experience. She is interested in a career in nursing.
“Using the goggles was pretty cool,” she said. “But they were hard to use. It gave you an idea how hard it would be to operate a vehicle if you were impaired.”
Barbara Coyle, director of volunteer services at GWV, said there is a great need for talented, caring health care professionals with more than 2,000 positions open in the Geisinger system. She said additional Health Care Awareness Days are planned for June 5 through 23 at GWV and June 26 through 30 at Geisinger South Wilkes Barre. These sessions are open to high school students and recent graduates.
Those interested in participating in an upcoming session may contact Volunteer Services at 570-808-6071 or [email protected]
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.