EMCC paramedic students assist in building Guyana EMS system

Jul 19, 2013

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Five paramedic students and two instructors from the Eastern Maine Community College and Kennebec Valley Community College paramedic programs traveled to the South American country of Guyana to participate in a service-based learning project helping the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation build a first-of-its-kind emergency medical system.

Guyana currently lacks a modern EMS system.  Although there are ambulances available, there are no trained personnel to staff them.  There is no 911 system, and injured and ill persons typically go without any form of pre-hospital emergency care. During the five-day visit, students conducted observational rotations in the various units of the Georgetown Public Hospital and were paired with a Guyanese nurse who had trained as an EMS instructor.  These exchanges fostered a better understanding of global health perspectives and benefited each participant greatly.

The EMCC students, Kelly Stewart and Christy Pugsley, encountered injuries rarely seen in Maine, such as poisonous snake bites. The team also assisted an understaffed Emergency Department crew to resuscitate a man suffering from electrocution. Stewart said of the experience, “The Georgetown Public Hospital does not have an automatic ventilator and this provided a new challenge to me in assisting the doctors and nurses.” Stewart manually ventilated the man for over an hour as her colleagues worked to save the man’s life.

EMCC and KVCC students teamed up to teach classes for future Guyanese Emergency Medical Dispatchers. The success of the visit supports the plan to create a true exchange program.  At least one Guyanese instructor will to travel to the US this fall to further his education. EMCC, KVCC, and Maine-based Atlantic Partners EMS plan to establish this as an annual Service Learning project for students on both campuses.

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