Mark Collin of Bethesda, Md., is flipped upside-down by his fellow WellSpan York Hospital emergency medicine residents as they learn how to use a backboard
Mark Collin of Bethesda, Md., is flipped upside-down by his fellow WellSpan York Hospital emergency medicine residents as they learn how to use a backboard Thursday during an EMS Skills Day demonstration at the York County FIre School. (John A. Pavoncello — jpavoncello@yorkdispatch.com)

A junkyard behind York County Fire School in Manchester Township was a proving ground for future doctors on Thursday.

A team of York Area United Fire and Rescue firefighters laid out the tools they use to rescue trapped patients from vehicles. Then they put the hydraulic-powered Jaws of Life, giant cutters and Halligan bar to work, tearing apart a scrap car.

Just a few minutes were enough to show the tools' strength. Firefighters in their turnout gear broke out the window glass and performed a "door pop," prying open a back door before pulling off the front passenger door.

The group of York Hospital residents watched in awe.

Unique program: During the fifth annual EMS Skills Day, 11 first-year emergency medicine residents and five pre-med interns learned how emergency medical services personnel retrieve trapped patients from cars, insert IVs while in moving vehicles and carry patients on spineboards.

"It's just so they get appreciation for what goes on before a patient hits the hospital," said Dr. Tom Yeich, an emergency physician at York Hospital.

Residents don't typically learn about the pre-hospital process in a normal residency, he said. In fact, very few residency programs in the country have programs like this, Yeich said.

"I think it's very unique," he said.


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The residents also learned about disaster triage and hazardous materials decontamination from WellSpan Health's Disaster Response Team.

Dateline: Resident Aaron Rudd, 27, of Winchester, Va., said the program gave him more appreciation for EMS and patients' pre-hospital process.

"I think it's kind of eye-opening because you don't realize what they have to go through before they get to the hospital," he said.

Residents also got the chance to be strapped to a spineboard themselves, Rudd said.

"Getting the patient's perspective was interesting because I didn't realize how uncomfortable it is," he said.

Resident Andrew Frei, 26, of Baltimore, said emergency physicians are known for how they can treat and stabilize patients in five minutes, rather than in the long-term.

"It's the best speciality," he said. "We have a practical skill set."

Micah Richardson, a pre-med student at Grove City College, joined the program as part of her six-week internship at the hospital's emergency medicine department.

"Having the opportunity to come here is pretty incredible," she said. "I'm pretty impressed with all the situations (EMS personnel) have to deal with."

Richardson, 20, of Hellam Township, said her internship allows her to see and do many things at the hospital, but she said she'd never seen the process of ripping apart a car.

"Not in real life — on TV," she said.

— Reach Mollie Durkin at mdurkin@yorkdispatch.com.