Carson High students learn ropes in tough emergency medical service class

Captain Tom Raw and other Carson City firefighters work on an old Toyota during an extraction drill Saturday at Station 52.

Captain Tom Raw and other Carson City firefighters work on an old Toyota during an extraction drill Saturday at Station 52.

Carson City first responders are going back to class — to teach.

Carson High School students have been receiving lessons from the fire department learning how to be EMTs.

CHS juniors and seniors have the option to train as EMS and EMTs through Frank Sakelarios’ emergency medical service class.

This is the second year the class has been held, and students get the same training as a six-credit class at Western Nevada College. At the end of the year, the students have the option to take the national test to become a certified basic EMT.

The class size is small, with 6 in the EMT class and 15 in the first responder class, in order to ensure students can get the proper attention and training to receive their certificate. Sakelarios said they haven’t had a lot of students sign up for the class, for one because it’s new, but also because it’s a difficult class.

“It is a difficult class,” said senior Karen Becerra. “The tests aren’t like usual exams and it challenges you a lot, but you do a lot of hands on and I like seeing what they do (at the fire department and emergency room).”

“The word is out that this is a hard class,” Sakelarios added. “There’s no slacking off and there are no excuses. It’s you do or don’t.”

But the students enjoy the class and learning the basic EMT training.

“Every student I have talked to, they love it,” Sakelarios said. “They enjoy the class; the opportunities given and the skills learned because they are skills you can take with you the rest of your life whether you become an EMT or not.”

Along with Sakelarios, who’s a certified EMT, Carson City firefighter/paramedics Jeff Davies, Curtis Baker and Jon Pedrini also come to help teach the class.

The nearly two dozen students in the first responder and EMT class learn in and out of the classroom. They are taught all of the basic EMT skills such as how to extract a patient, how to take vitals and how to treat injuries with hands on training.

“They learn all the skills they need to have as EMTs,” Sakelarios said. “This class is fun to teach because you get to see them go from having some knowledge to understanding everything involved and putting it to use.”

The students are also required to do ride-alongs with the fire department and in the emergency room, and Sakelarios said it really helps students because when they come back, they have a better understanding if they want to continue with their EMT training after high school.

One of the on hand skills training the students receive is a vehicle extraction. The CHS students met at Fire Station 52 on College Parkway Saturday to learn about how to aid victims who are trapped in a vehicle.

The students learned how to talk to a victim to console them, how to get them onto the backboard and transported from the vehicle. Then they got the chance to witness how the firefighters disassemble a vehicle to extract a victim.

“We try to give them the best exposure as we can and give them as many scenarios so they can get as much experience as possible,” Sakelarios said.

The students also were able to learn how to take victims from the vehicle and learn how to load them onto CareFlight to transport them to the hospital.

“I have never put the backboard in the car and transported the victim, so learning to use all the equipment (is interesting),” said senior Gaby Palazzolo. “I think it is really cool because learning in the book is so much different than learning to do it out here.”

Sakelarios said this class isn’t only good for the students but the partnership with Fire Department has been beneficial for the firefighters as well.

“I think it has been a great experience for them too because it started out tentative based on their perception of high school kids,” Sakelarios said. “I think there was this perception that the kids couldn’t rise to the occasion and it was good for them to see that these kids do a great job and really work hard.”

The Sheriff’s Office also paid Carson High a visit this last week, with Deputy Josh Chaney of the Special Enforcement Team teaching the 9th grade health classes about the dangers of drugs in the community.

Each year the health class has members of the community teach the students about substance abuse and narcotics because it’s a better way for the students to learn, said health teacher Misty Guantonio.

“This does two things for the students,” Guantonio said. “It gets students to see the Sheriff’s Office as a resource and see them in a positive role. As for the instruction, it help students not hear redundant teachers so they get to hear a new voice for learning about the substance abuse and prevention unit.”

“This is just so much more valuable than just me sitting here teaching,” Guantonio added.

She said Chaney, along with School Resource Officer Dean Williams, were the perfect teachers because they were able to connect with the students and make them laugh while they learn.

“What is good is that he connects with the kids because he can talk like them and then they listen better and they respond better because he isn’t talking down to them,” Guantonio said.

The students learned about the main types of drugs the SET team sees around Carson City, how to identify them and what the effects of the drugs have on the body. Chaney also showed the students some photos from previous drug busts they have had, including busts of former Carson High students.

“It is here and it is available but it is very dangerous what this stuff can do,” Chaney told the students. “You can die from these.”

Chaney said it’s important to start teaching students about drug use in high school so they begin to recognize it and stay away from it.

“Drug users are becoming younger and younger,” Chaney said. “Most young people know that drugs are bad for them and illegal but they don’t really understand how much it takes over their lives. The more we can educate and inform, the more we are being proactive than reactive.”


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