Public safety students put training to the test
By ANGIE HAFLICH
Sometimes, the best way to learn something isn't by hearing a lecture, but by just doing it. That is the point behind the Garden City Community College Department of Public Safety's scenario day that took place Thursday.
"We put them under that pressure and see how they handle stress, and let them see how they handle stress, so they can work on that before they (begin in their chosen field)," David Rupp, DPS instructor said.
Students worked on several scenarios, including a hit-and-run accident involving two pedestrians, as ambulances, police trainee vehicles and the EagleMed helicopter stood by.
Drama department students Tori Fairbanks and Jacyn Dawes played the parts of the injured pedestrians and GCCC Admissions Director Nikki Geier portrayed the driver who had fled the scene.
"One of them was on the hood and one was underneath the car," Rupp said.
Fairbanks, who was pinned between the car and a light pole, was mock airlifted out by the EagleMed helicopter. Dawes, who was on the hood, was taken away by ambulance. Both victims were made to appear to have actual injuries — Fairbanks with a fake broken leg and Dawes with a fake bloody head injury.
"We try to make it as realistic as possible, with the blood and guts," Rupp said.
Storm Mosher and Leeana Guerrero, both criminal justice students, secured the scene of the hit-and-run accident.
"We're getting everyone's name that was at the scene, making sure no people came onto the scene, monitoring traffic and making sure everyone did their part and stayed out of their way — didn't overstep their boundaries," Mosher said.
Later in the day, Mosher and Guerrero processed evidence from the scene.
"We have to go back after and interview the people and stuff like that. We're going to be checking the evidence in, doing the chain of custody, writing all the reports," Mosher said. "It's done for everyone else (involved in the scenarios themselves), but it's not close to done for us."
Mosher plans to become a state trooper and Guerrero hopes to work as an investigator for a state bureau of investigation.
At one point during the scenario, Mosher said he encountered his own hit-and-run experience, as he stood in the road directing traffic away from the scene.
"I was standing right here and this car had its turn signal to go that way, so I just kind of turned my back right here and then they come this way, and the mirror hit me in the back," he said, laughing.
Other scenarios included a drug and alcohol overdose, a seizure, a pregnant woman, a panic attack and a case of domestic violence.
"We had actually nursing students try to break up the domestic violence scenario — they thought it was real, so our actors from the drama department did a really good job," Rupp said.
Scenario day is the equivalent of finals for DPS students.
"We grade them on what they've done here today and then also the reports when they come in," Rupp said.
The reports are evaluations done by personnel from the Garden City Police Department, Finney County Emergency Medical Services, and normally firefighters, who couldn't participate this year because they were preparing for state testing.
Former DPS student Jerred Stritt, who is now a Garden City Police Officer, evaluated the students' handling of the mock hit-and-run scene.
"The students did pretty good. A little chaos, but that's expected," Stritt said.
He said that when he participated in scenario day as a GCCC student, he found the experience to be very helpful in understanding what his future career would entail.
"For me, it gave me a taste of what I was getting into, how chaotic this job can be," Stritt said. "And it actually encouraged me to pursue this (line of work) even more."