Training First Responders

Military Science Instructor John Haiduck (right) instructs two Dickinson Public Safety officers on wound-packing technique during a recent training session for local first responders.

Senior Military Instructor in Military Science John Haiduck (right) instructs two Dickinson Public Safety officers on wound-packing technique during a recent training session for local first responders. Photo by Carl Socolow '77.

Dickinson to Lead Emergency Response Training Initiative

by Craig Layne

Dickinson has been awarded a grant from Highmark Blue Shield to train first responders and the public on how to better care for those wounded during active-shooter and mass-casualty events. The $5,711 grant award will enable Professor of Biology Chuck Zwemer and Senior Military Instructor in Military Science John Haiduck to lead specialized courses covering first-aid treatments aimed at managing traumatic injuries, stopping bleeding and preventing deaths.

“Incidents like the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing show how a pre-trained public can help victims and increase the odds of survival,” said Zwemer, a certified EMT who has taught anatomy and physiology for more than 20 years. Haiduck, who teaches cadets in Dickinson’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, serves as an advanced tactical paramedic in the U.S. Army Special Forces. The two will be joined by other first-responder instructors trained in advanced first-aid techniques for mass-casualty events.

They will use evidence-based guidelines developed by the Committee for Tactical Emergency Casualty Care, using knowledge from the American College of Surgeons and federal and military agencies gained in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and in responding to active-shooter and mass-casualty events. These guidelines focus on early and aggressive treatment of preventable causes of death, like massive blood loss. “Simple but life-saving emergency medical care, like the use of tourniquets or pressure bandaging, can be taught easily to almost anyone,” said Zwemer.

The training aims to prepare all levels of responders including would-be victims, bystanders and first responders with no emergency medical background, who could assist victims immediately after a threat, like an active shooter, is neutralized. An eight-hour training session was conducted recently for Dickinson's Department of Public Safety, the Carlisle Police Department and Cumberland County first responders. Early next year, a four-hour course will be offered to the broader college community, local civic groups and the public.

The grant from Highmark Blue Shield also will help provide specialized, individual emergency kits, which can be worn by police officers for immediate use on victims in a mass casualty or other incidents. Dickinson also is providing partial funding for the initiative.

“We are proud to partner with Dickinson College to provide this important training to first responders and our community. If the unthinkable happens here the Emergency Response Training will have us prepared and will save lives. The Emergency Response Training and our partnership with Dickinson build a safer community. We are committed to building a safe, healthy community and have supported similar programs throughout the state,” said Kathy McKenzie, Highmark vice president of community affairs.

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Published December 14, 2017