BILLINGS – A department-wide training at Billings Fire Station One was not for the faint of heart, as the Billings Clinic Trauma team gave firefighters a realistic experience of responding to a traumatic injury.
“It’s great training for us. This is actual stuff we will see in the field. It’s not something we see every day, so when it does come up, it’s a good thing to have this training so we can go back to it and do what we’re trained to do,” said Kyle Clark, firefighter and paramedic with the Billings Fire Department.
The training was done with a cut suit, which creates a scenario that’s designed to simulate a real-life trauma injury.
“It’s kind of a shock right away because it looks so realistic, so it’s exactly what we go through when we go on scene and we see someone with a bad wound,” Clark said.
Using special effects blood and wearable injured body parts from the cut suit, Beth McCotter, trauma outreach clinician with Billings Clinic, lay on the ground, playing the victim of a firework blast.
A nearby pump provides a continuous flow of artificial blood until the firefighters can stop the bleeding with tools from their medical kit.
“Medical emergencies are probably the most common call we get. We’re located throughout the city strategically so we can get there within a certain amount of time. We do medical calls, we do car wrecks, rescues, fires, HAZMAT, all that,” Clark said.
As a team of four firefighters approached McCotter and worked on her mock injuries, Dr. Timothy Bikman with Billings Clinic emergency medicine, and Dr. William Selde, the medical director of EMS and transport medicine, stood by, observing the firefighters’ actions.
After the scenario was over, the doctors and McCotter gave the firefighters feedback.
“We’re fortunate to have that kind of training. They have the equipment that we don’t have and then it’s good to hear from other personnel, from nurses and doctors to give us a different insight on something that we might miss or something that we wouldn’t see and vice versa,” Clark said.
Both the Billings Fire Department and Billings Clinic hope to incorporate this type of training more often.