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Published on June 14, 2022

GundersenAIR leads training for Decorah emergency services

Gundersen Health System, in collaboration with LifeGuard Air Ambulance of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, conducted a first-of-its-kind emergency training event June 11 with members of the Decorah Fire Department and emergency medical services. Representatives from GundersenAIR, with assistance from the Integrated Center for Education, led the training.

GundersenAIR staff and its Decorah-based helicopter, along with LifeGuard and its chopper, were on hand that day to help facilitate five stations that depicted scenarios first responders could encounter in a rural area, including a tractor rollover, grain bin extraction, anhydrous burn, deer stand accident and simulated house fire. Decorah personnel rotated through the stations, working to address the situation and extract the victim while Gundersen staff observed. Then first responders got a chance to see what happens when the flight crew takes over.

“We do work together to some extent, but not always in the same manner,” said Gundersen flight nurse Megan Johnson. “Usually by the time the flight crew gets there, the patient has already by extracted by the fire departments, so this will give us a good chance to see what the fire department does and how they do things start to finish, and same thing (for them).”

At each station, the fire department personnel had to extract a mannequin from the perilous situation, and then flight crews took over to treat the patient accordingly. It’s a test for the flight crew, Johnson said, to assess the patient’s needs correctly, and it’s a chance for the fire department to take stock of its equipment to determine if it has what it needs to make the rescue.

That day, ICE provided high-fidelity mannequins and equipment to make each scenario as realistic as possible, which allows responders to treat the patient at a level they would in a real situation. But ICE wasn’t the only other agency GundersenAIR worked with to enhance the experience that day. LifeGuard was brought in as collaborator following a chance meeting of GundersenAIR and LifeGuard’s medical directors at a leadership conference.

“They started talking about it and decided it’d be really cool if we could collaborate a training together because we’re two services that offer different things,” Johnson said. “We could probably offer each other a lot of different ideas of what works, what doesn’t.”

Because this if the first training of its kind, Gundersen limited participation to Decorah EMS personnel only, but if the day is deemed successful, it could be expanded to other departments in subsequent years.

“We work with these (EMS personnel), sometimes on a daily basis, so we’re out there on the calls and meeting up with them,” said GundersenAIR nurse educator Janelle Weaver. “If we don’t do some sort of training and work with them, it can kind of make it a challenge for the crew that’s on.”

She added, “When you train together and you’re able to work together and see each other, when you go to the next accident, you’re so well-versed with each other and how you work together. That collaboration is just priceless.”

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