MCI Training Pays Off at VT Rescue

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Susan Nicol Kyle
EMSResponder.Com News

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Planning for a potential MCI takes center stage at Virginia Tech Rescue Squad.

Responders -- all students -- understand the potential. On any given day, there are more than 36,000 people on the sprawling campus.

"We have a MCI plan, and we train. We have to," said Matthew Lewis, 21. "We probably train more than anyone."

They believe they have to.

During football season, they are responsible for the safety of 65,000 fans as well as others who may be on campus for other events.

Lewis said it would be ludicrous to believe they can handle it on their own. "We always ask nearby companies to send units out to help. We pool our resources and work together."

Crews equipped with AEDs are strategically located throughout the stadium. They also have a cart available to gain quick access to emergencies. "If someone goes into arrest, we can have an AED there within a matter of minutes."

Other EMTs and paramedics are located on the field to handle issues involving players, coaches and cheerleaders. "There are no lone rangers here. We work as a team."

Monday wasn't the first time that the ambulance crews have come together for an incident involving multiple patients. A few years ago, 10 students were injured when they fell from a window.

Lewis says the relationship played a vital role in the response to the deadly shooting rampage.

A member of the Christiansburg Volunteer Rescue Squad said he's always been impressed with the professionalism of the VT providers. "They really showed they knew what they were doing on Monday," said the EMT, who would not give his name.

Lt. Matt Johnson assumed incident command, and various duties were assigned. Nearby hospitals were put on alert. Patients, the majority of whom had been shot more than once, were triaged and tagged. The most serious were transported first.

Personnel also pointed out that the majority of the responders were volunteers, the norm in the Blacksburg area. "Many left work that day to help, and some left kids at home," said Lt. Sarah Walker, of Blacksburg Volunteer Rescue Squad. "More than half of our 90 members responded, which we think is outstanding."

The VT squad has about 40 members who are trained as EMTs, enhanced EMTs and paramedics. They provide EMS coverage 365 days a year. In addition to running two ALS-equipped ambulances, they also have an SUV stocked with ALS supplies. They also have a bike team that handles various campus events.

They run an average of 900 calls annually, not counting responses to incidents at football games.

Potential members are expected to hang out with the crews to determine if EMS is something they're interested in doing. "It also gives us an idea if they'll fit in with us," Lewis said, adding that the squad members are like family.

The student squad -- the second oldest in the country -- was organized in 1969, after four men were denied membership in the Blacksburg Vol. Fire Dept.

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