WALKER -- Everyone in attendance fell silent when the dispatcher’s voice boomed through the speakers.
“911. What’s your emergency?” she asked.
The next voice came from the woman making the call, who recounted her tale: While grocery shopping with her new boyfriend, her ex approached with his gang. Out of jealousy, he pulled out a gun and fired shots at her new boyfriend, striking him as well as an innocent bystander.
After logging in the details, the dispatcher assured the girlfriend that “help is on the way” as she radioed the Sheriff’s Office, which sent two deputies to secure the scene as more first responders were en route.
Firefighters and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) arrived and rushed to the two victims, who were both lying on the ground “outside a grocery store on a normal day,” the narrator said. EMTs placed one of the victims on a stretcher and transported him to an area hospital. They performed CPR on the other, to no avail.
Fast forward two weeks, and the man who survived was back at the hospital as nurses performed follow-up checkups on his shot leg. They said he was doing well in his recovery, which drew a sigh of relief from his girlfriend, whose 911 phone call might have been the different between life and death.
This entire scene unfolded outside the Livingston Parish Literacy and Technology Center (LPLTC), where high school students performed a mock crisis scenario in front of a live audience of 50 or more spectators on Friday, April 5.
The purpose of the mock scenario was to showcase the school’s new ambulance, which was acquired through a $5,000 grant from the Kelly Gene Cook Deborah Rochelle Grant process.
It also gave students a chance to display the skills they practice on a daily basis as they work toward certifications in pre-nursing, automotive tech, criminal justice, engineering, computer service, patient care, and emergency medical tech.
“This is our first mock scenario and the first time the kids could really show what they’ve been training for,” said LPLTC Principal Kim Albin. “It gives people an up-close idea of what happens in these type of crisis scenarios, from the dispatcher getting the call to the first responders arriving to the follow-up appointment a few weeks later.”
The students made the mock scenario as “life-like” as possible. The sounds of gunshots, sirens and radio calls rang loud in the air as narrators explained the action to the audience, which included Central Office personnel and real-life first responders.
Speaking to the students before the presentation, Albin told them she was proud of the effort they all put forth during the school year in preparation for “Mock Day.”
“You are all real-world people,” she told the students.
Students taking criminal justice, EMT and nursing courses performed the mock scenario, while computer service tech students recorded all the action that appeared via a live feed on a nearby television.
As the dispatcher, Denham Springs High senior Ashley Williams said her job was to take the call from the distressed girlfriend.
“I had to take down all the information of what happened and dispatch it to police, fire, and EMS,” Williams said. “I was actually entering information in a system called ProQA. Each week, we have to enter a certain number of cases in as quickly as possible and see how fast we can dispatch.”
Jordan Joslin, a senior at Walker High studying criminal justice, was one of two deputies who arrived on the scene. Her job was to check on the victims, get a description of the suspects and search the truck they left behind.
“We have to make sure the scene is secure before they can send fire and EMS,” she said. “We’re the first first responders.”
“Dispatch is the first first responders,” Williams chimed in, drawing an eye roll from Joslin.
William Newton, a senior at Live Oak High, was one of the EMTs who pulled up in the new ambulance, or as Albin called it, “a makerspace for all seven classes.” His job was “to make sure the victims were taken care of.”
“At that point, they would be going into shock,” he said, “so we wanted to make sure they weren’t bleeding out and get them on the ambulance and out of there as fast as we could.”
Williams, Joslin and Newton said the students rehearsed the scenario once a week, though they practiced the skills daily in class.
For Joslin, who said she’ll be working at the Livingston Parish Detention Center following graduation, the scenario prepared her and her classmates in ways the traditional classroom could not.
“This helped us get more valuable on-the-ground ideas and see how things are gonna run in those type of situations,” she said. “It teaches us to work together to get the job done. The people in other fields don’t always get along, but we try to work together because our goal is to take care of the victims and patients and make sure nothing worse happens.”
During the program, the public caught its first glimpse of the fully-functional LPLTC ambulance, which students in the automotive tech, engineering, computer service, and EMT classes converted from an old school bus.
Students worked on the vehicle’s transformation “almost every day” since August, automotive teacher Mike Deville said. They stripped the bus of all its contents, modified and installed cabinets and shelves, added cameras and television monitors, and hooked up oxygen tanks.
Work on the ambulance wrapped up the week of the program, when students added a step for the stretcher.
“I looked at some guys that are certified welders and said, ‘Come up with a plan to add the step,’” Deville recalled. “They came up with one, and I said, ‘Okay, you got two hours, execute.’ And they did.”
Live Oak High senior Hunter Cook, who was supervisor of the project, said that students did all the work on the conversion, “down to the last wire.” The names of all the students who participated were even painted on the hood of the vehicle.
“It was a big-time group effort,” Cook said. “It was crazy how everybody worked together to do this. There were some days where you wanted to step away because it was getting stressful, but we came through.
“It’s weird to think that this is the same bus that was parked over there for so long.”