Greenville-Tech and USC School of Medicine-Greenville team up to provide a new level of medical education

CarolinaFireJournal - CFJ Staff
CFJ Staff
04/21/2013 -

Greenville Technical College and the USC School of Medicine-Greenville have joined forces to expose future doctors to field reality. USC Greenville is the only medical school in the nation that requires students to become certified EMTs through Greenville Tech and to “ride” for at least two years. The value of this experience is in exposing future doctors to the realities behind illness and injury and to the roles of first responders in emergency situations.

In August, the first class of medical students took part in an emergency medical technician operations exercise held on the Greenville Memorial Medical Campus. This lifelike exercise with hospital personnel playing the role of patients served as a capstone exercise for the students’ EMT education.


The true-to-life exercise was designed to test the skills of students as they rotated through two scenarios: a motor vehicle crash simulation with multiple injuries and entrapments and an industrial disaster simulation with victims who were overcome by a potentially deadly gas. The med students were tested on how well they assessed the situation, performed triage, treated patients, worked with other first responders, and addressed the media.

Every effort was made to create a realistic scenario. The “patients” involved wore appropriate make-up and followed a carefully crafted script. A heart attack victim was trapped in a vehicle and a dazed victim wandered around the crash site. People playing reporters showed up unannounced and added to the confusion that a true emergency may entail.

Plans call for this disaster preparedness exercise to be a regular occurrence as students complete the six-week Emergency Medical Technician program. Greenville Tech offers two level of training in this area — EMT and Paramedic. The EMT program covers the fundamentals of medical care. Paramedic students learn advanced assessment and treatment techniques.

When the USC School of Medicine-Greenville reaches full enrollment capacity in 2018 with 100 students in each level of the four-year program, the community will benefit from 400 certified EMTs ready to work as first responders in the event of a community disaster.

“We are really trying to do something different with this medical school,” said Dr. Thomas Blackwell of USC School of Medicine-Greenville. “We are the only medical school to require our students to become certified EMTs and continue practicing for two years. For the students, EMT training gives them basic clinical skills but also teaches them how to work as part of a healthcare team, how to communicate with patients, families, and colleagues in tense situations and instills them with empathy for others. This is invaluable if you want to become a doctor.”

“Being part of a training partnership that improves medical education while giving our community a ready supply of skilled first responders is a win-win situation,” said Mike Dunaway, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medical Technology at Greenville Tech. “We will continue to improve medical education as we build the pipeline of emergency personnel in our area.”

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