If it's Snowing, We're Going: EMS Special Situations Course Winter Version

March 13, 2014

You're on the ground- the cold, cold ground. You didn't see the snowmobile coming over the berm until it was too late. The pain in your leg is palpable, caught underneath the weight of the ATV- you see your girlfriend lying lifelessly on her side, too far away to help. Besides your choked cries out to her, and occasionally to the silent snowmobilers, it's eerily quiet. You come to your senses and dial 9-11

This situation is one of several that EMS students responded to in the Winter Version of EMS Special Situations Course, delivered on March 3-4, 2014 at the New York State Preparedness Training Center (SPTC).The course provides training for EMS personnel to respond to requests for service involving circumstances often not encountered, including multiple patients, physical hazards, and difficult operating environments. This training is designed to reinforce correct application of basic emergency medical skills while developing advanced application techniques and scene management through discussion, skill lanes, and scenario-based learning.

The Winter Version features an emphasis on unique considerations to manage in austere conditions, i.e., all of the joys of winter. Mechanisms of injury in winter vehicle accidents provided students with opportunities to practice basic skills while taking outside factors into account, such as the higher potential for hypothermia or increased risk of injury to responders and further injury to patients due to slick ground conditions.

Students were challenged and many expressed confidence that they're more prepared than when they arrived at the SPTC. One student shared, "I don't have many of these situations under my belt and some things I messed up, but this training makes me feel like I've done it and could do it again in my fire department."

The Winter Version was immensely helped by Mother Nature, with snow and ice abound at the SPTC. During the course the temperature reached a low of -6 degrees, making scenario-based activities in the elements rather realistic. The weather stepped up the intensity and continued to be unforgiving throughout the course. Instructors emphasized the need for extra self-care as well as awareness for the health and safety of others; in addition, the Safety Officers did a great job monitoring everyone throughout the course.

The next EMS Special Situations Course (regular version) is scheduled for delivery in the summer of 2014. Interested individuals should contact the SPTC at or (315)-768-5689 for more information.