Real thrills experienced on Tahoe emergency drill
April 25, 2009
LAKE TAHOE ” By the look of things, it has been a rough quarter for Lake Tahoe Community College’s Virginia Boyar.
In March, the director of career and technical education donned firefighting gear and marched into a burning building to observe cadets from the college’s firefighter academy in action.
And at about 1 p.m. on Friday, Boyar was wedged between boulders at a popular South Shore climbing spot, screaming when any one of 13 students came near her supposedly broken right femur.
“I’m quite a ham,” Boyar said before the make-believe accident involving two victims at a collection of large granite boulders off of Sawmill Road known as “Pie Shop.”
Responding to the accident scenario was the final exam for students in an emergency medical technician refresher course at the college.
The course provides the education necessary for re-certification as an EMT and was taught by Lake Valley Fire Protection District firefighter paramedic Colin Hargrove.
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Although re-certification can be accomplished in a classroom, Hargrove said he likes to include a field exercise in the refresher course to keep students interested and to “stress them out” a little bit.
From the looks of concentration and concern on the students’ faces on Friday, Hargrove accomplished both.
But it didn’t happen without a little help from his friends.
El Dorado County Sheriff’s deputies were on hand to close a section of Sawmill Road for about 30 minutes so a CALSTAR crew could land a helicopter in a snow-covered spot and leave with Boyar strapped to a backboard.
The flight added a distinct sense of realism to Friday’s exercise, and undoubtedly helped students keep their game faces during the rescue.
Still, student and fire academy veteran Kelly Fitzpatrick couldn’t help but crack a smile during some of Boyar’s frequent comedic interludes, including her response to a question about medications she’s allergic to that included an irreverent, “I don’t do well on white wine.”
“I have the best job in the world,” Boyar said before the final exam started.
Despite the comedic breaks, Fitzpatrick said the final exam was unlike anything she had done before.
“This was my first time doing something this intense,” Fitzpatrick said, describing her whole experience with the class as “awesome.”
Emergency medical technician classes are among the most popular vocational offerings at the college, with approximately 150 people going through EMT training each year, Boyar said.