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Training brings life saving result

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by James HillLanaya Bowman used her training and saved a life.At a local detoxification center, the Portland Community College emergency medical technology student was in the midst of her clinical rotation when a desperate call came over the intercom. An EMT was needed upstairs for a life-and-death emergency. After rushing to the scene, she initiated CPR on a man who had suffered a seizure and wasn’t breathing. Bowman coolly attached an external defibrillator and shocked him once.Lanaya Bowman with Paula WilsonBowman couldn’t detect a pulse and so continued CPR. When the 9-1-1 paramedics arrived, they connected the patient to an EKG and found he did have a pulse. They told Bowman that her efforts helped to shock the man back into a viable heart rhythm. The patient was transported to the hospital and moved to the ICU."A lot of students never have a chance to react to a situation like this," said Bowman, who lives in Hillsboro. "I happened to be lucky to be in the right place at the right time and be able to respond to this situation."Bowman, 26, credits her training at PCC as instrumental in making her cool and calm when the emergency arose."In the weekly labs of our paramedic training, we practice to respond to all emergency scenarios," she said. "When I was suddenly responding to the real thing, I found myself responding with my instincts and instead of thinking through all that had to be done.I was pleasantly surprised, looking back on it, I felt like my pulse rate never rose once. I thought, ‘okay the guy’s blue, not breathing, need to do something about it’."Bowman has always been interested in emergency situations. "It enthralls me to be in the midst of that and that’s what led me down to the paramedic pathway," she said. "I took a basic class at PCC. I wasn’t serious at the time, but after taking the class, I felt it would be a really good education. Just hearing from other classmates and their experience it really encouraged and felt jealous they went through those experiences."She is currently in her clinical phase of her training and is three-quarters of the way to her associate’s degree. She wants to work a local ambulance company like Metro West and spend time responding to calls to get experience. She says she’d eventually like to volunteer her skills for organizations that respond to disaster situations like Northwest Medical Teams.She credits PCC in focus her on the No. 1 task."The biggest thing I’ve learned is that you have to look at your patient and not the monitors," said Bowman. "I found that the old saying of, ‘treat the patients not the monitor,’ to be very true thanks to this situation."Her favorite aspect of her training has been when the lab assistants came in and offered stories on their experiences in the field. "They had so much to offer," Bowman said. "We ran through scenarios and it’s pretty accurate. It’s excellent training and close to the real thing."The emergency medical technician (EMT) program offers career training for entry-level positions in an emergency medical setting. The classes cover EMT Basic, Intermediate, and paramedic coursework. As members of the emergency medical services system, EMTs respond to emergency calls to provide efficient and immediate care to the critically ill and injured, and transport patients to appropriate medical facilities. The program will move into the newly remodeled Public Services Education Building, which will bring three related programs together on the Cascade Campus. Emergency medical services and paramedic programs will move from the Southeast Center and fire science will move from Gresham to join criminal justice at Cascade.And, Bowman isn’t the only one applying her skills in the real world.A PCC emergency medical technician basic student, Kevin Hawke, was able to use his training through instructor Dennesse Kelsay to save his grandmother from a choking incident during a graduation dinner last month in California. After instructing the waiter at the restaurant to dial 9-1-1, Hawke applied the Heimlich maneuver and dislodged the piece of food caught in her throat."I truly know he saved my life," said Pat Wanamaker, Hawke’s grandmother, in a thank you letter to the program. "It was a real scary situation for me and I thank God that Kevin was there. Thank you for training your students so well."It’s just another reason why the EMT program at PCC, thanks to its real world approach, is changing lives of patients and students."The clinical and field internship phases introduce students to real-life skills in a controlled atmosphere," said Paula Wilson. "Placing the students in hospitals and clinics and then in fire departments and an ambulance agency allows them the opportunity to apply all their knowledge and skills. It is a critical phase for success because the student needs to be able to put it all together and act in a timely manner under stress. Lanaya was able to handle this situation because she followed protocol and she did an excellent job."

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »