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Gaining New Perspective As ‘Crash Victims’ in Airport Emergency Drill

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TSTC Surgical Technology student Alexandria Benavidez (right), acting as an injured patient, is helped by Harlingen firefighter Lilliana Nacianceno during an emergency drill on Oct. 12 at Valley International Airport. (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)
TSTC Surgical Technology student Alexandria Benavidez (right), acting as an injured patient, is helped by Harlingen firefighter Lilliana Nacianceno during an emergency drill on Oct. 12 at Valley International Airport. (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)

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HARLINGEN, Texas – More than 130 students from Texas State Technical College’s Harlingen campus participated in an emergency drill that was staged on a closed runway at Valley International Airport on Thursday, Oct. 12.

Some of TSTC’s Biomedical Equipment Technology, Dental Hygiene, Emergency Medical Services, Nursing, and Surgical Technology students collaborated with first responders from the South Texas Emergency Care Foundation, Harlingen Fire Department and other area agencies for the exercise.

The students played the parts of airplane crash victims and were transported to Harlingen Medical Center and Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen and Brownsville.

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“I learned a lot from this experience, such as how and who to respond to,” said Kimberly Pacheco, a TSTC Nursing student. “It was amazing to see the work performed by the medical professionals and their critical thinking decisions.”

Jairus Castillo, of San Benito, is studying for a certificate of completion in Emergency Medical Services – Advanced EMT AEMT. He said the exercise gave him a different perspective.

“After experiencing this scenario, I feel for how long a patient has to wait for help,” he said.

Amy Rubio, of Palmview, is studying for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Dental Hygiene. She said the exercise was worthwhile.

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“You gain a clear sense of how a patient feels,” she said. “Patient care is vital in these circumstances, and it’s important to treat them like family.”

Bryan Wren is assistant director of aviation for Valley International Airport.

“(The students) learned an ideal situation from a victim’s standpoint of the initial incident, being transported by ambulances at the scene, and the final stage of triage at both area hospitals,” he said.

Pedro Moreno, director of the South Texas Emergency Care Foundation, said the event was a major learning experience for all involved.

“We had many agency resources work together and contribute, and the medical students from TSTC were beneficial,” he said.

David Campos, interim provost for TSTC’s Harlingen campus, said the emergency drill was a good opportunity for the students.

“The direct exposure our students received with the first responders aligns with the hands-on training students gain in their programs,” he said. “That specialized training will result in our students being ready for the jobs that await them after they graduate from TSTC.”

For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

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