In August, BCOM hosted its first Tiered Interdisciplinary Medical Response scenario with involvement from the NMSU Police and Fire Departments, the NMSU Nursing Program, and student paramedics from Dona Ana Community College. It was an event two years in the making, said BCOM’s Director of Simulation Sam Gutierrez, the visionary behind the scenario.

“I brought this up to the dean during the ground breaking for the school,” he remembers. “He really liked the idea of involving the community and the other agencies that ultimately helped make this a success. The overall goal was to show that BCOM is here to provide trained, high quality physicians to the local communities and to show how we encompass all entities in our training, such as the NMSU Police and Fire, NMSU Nursing, and DACC paramedics.”

The trauma scenario entailed responding to the injuries of an adult male involved in a bicycle accident. The patient, Hal, is one of seven hi-fidelity manikins BCOM utilizes to teach and test their students. The robotic “patients” can be programmed to manifest the symptoms of numerous medical ailments, injuries, and conditions. They also respond and react accordingly to the care and medications administered by the doctors-in-training.

As a precursor to the actual scenario, Gutierrez worked with videographers from BCOM’s IT department to film the bicycle accident and the initial 911 call and response from police, fire, and two student paramedics. On the day of the event, participants watched the accident on video and then jumped into action at the scene of the accident where Hal was in place and waiting for treatment.

An AMR ambulance transported Hal to a simulated emergency room set up on the BCOM campus. DACC paramedic students Brittney Flora and Colter Whiting provided care enroute. NMSU nursing students Hannah Null, Melanie Camacho, and Savannah Martinez, along with three student doctors from BCOM, took over once they reached the “hospital.”

“It was a great experience,” notes Evangelina Ramirez, RN, simulation laboratory coordinator for the NMSU School of Nursing. “Everyone got the opportunity to work with students from other disciplines and get a real sense of what others are doing and how we work together to achieve a good outcome in patient care. It was eye-opening for everyone, down to the paramedics who got to see what happens after they drop a patient off at the hospital.”

Other staff from BCOM played the roles of ER receptionist, hospital security, and concerned family member in efforts to authentically represent the multitude of parties emergency response personnel must communicate with when responding to an accident.

Robert Lyday, a student in BCOM’s class of 2020 said, “I learned about the importance of team coordination when treating a patient. You all want to help, but everyone has to have a job and know what they are doing and when to do it. Doctors, nurses, paramedics, and support staff have to have an established relationship working together in order to expect good outcomes for any patient.”

The entire scenario and response—from the accident scene to the final treatment in the ER—was recorded and broadcast in one of BCOM’s conference rooms where personnel from all the entities involved watched and evaluated.

BCOM student Fernando Magana Herrera, who also participated in the event along with fellow student Stephanie Ayla, added that it was a great learning experience that allowed him to see just how various professionals contribute to patient care from start to finish. “I gained a new appreciation for the EMTs and Paramedics after seeing how they respond to situations with limited resources and limited space,” he said. “The NMSU nurses were great and I felt like we were truly a team during the scenario. I enjoyed working with Robert Lyday and Stephanie Ayala as we delegated roles and began to work together as a physician team. This was an eye opening experience and it was exciting to get a glimpse of the future.”

As in any new endeavor of this magnitude, Gutierrez says there were some hiccups along the way, but that overall it went extremely well and everyone was pleased with the outcome—so much so that this is just the first of many similar events BCOM hopes to coordinate and host in coming years. Ramirez said she’d like to see an even bigger scenario involving multiple patients and Gutierrez added that he’d like to involve even more local entities, like the Border Patrol. Native Air, an air medical transport service, has even reached out to him expressing interest in being involved in the next event.

Gutierrez said, “I hope we showed the community and the world that we are here to stay and we are committed to providing well-trained physicians. I hope we showed that BCOM is committed to better healthcare in New Mexico.”