News and Events

New equipment puts paramedic students ahead

Paramedia students uses new ultrasound technology
October 29, 2020

Second year paramedic students at Medicine Hat College (MHC) are among the first post-secondary learners in the province to use a handheld ultrasound device as part of an experiential learning opportunity.

The students had the chance to try out the device on a peer volunteer, looking for the healthy version of a number of different organs. They then compared their findings to abnormal scenarios simulated on a mannequin patient and identified the differences.

Duane Delaurier, an instructor in the paramedic program, says the innovative event puts MHC at the forefront of providing this type of experiential learning opportunity for paramedic students in our province.

“While the use of handheld ultrasound devices has been part of the core curriculum in medical schools for a number of years, the implementation into paramedic programs is a relatively new thing. Ultrasound equipment has dramatically evolved over the past few decades. Due to its large initial size it, was not conducive to an ambulance environment. Now, the technology is evolving and the equipment are getting smaller, creating the opportunity for the portable devices to be used in pre-hospital care."

”The handheld device is small enough to fit into the user’s pocket, and transmits images to a smartphone via Bluetooth where the health care professional is able to clearly see what is going on inside the body. The images and videos can also be saved to share with other professionals involved in the patient’s care.

Oscar Moreno, MHC student, says the technology allows paramedics to provide even better care in what can sometimes be a stressful environment.

“This equipment gives us an early opportunity to more accurately assess the patient’s status while in transit because we have the imaging to see what we need to see internally. We are then able to get a head start on the treatment plan best suited to the patient’s needs in the ambulance before they arrive at the hospital.”

Delaurier explains that MHC first brought ultrasound simulation into the paramedic program approximately three years ago, and wants to expand on the teaching by implementing the use of the handheld device into the curriculum permanently.

“Being able to successfully acquire images, interpret the images, and make a clinical decision based on your findings is a critical skill for our paramedic students to obtain. Students must be able to identify normal before they move to abnormal. It takes students about 25 times of doing image acquisition to be comfortable in their ability, so having early experience with this type of equipment puts them ahead of the curve.”

Paramedic program coordinator, Scott Mullin adds that MHC is already going through the budget approval process to decide which of three brands of devices will be implemented into the new curriculum, weighing cost versus best tool for student use.

“From a program perspective, it’s important for Medicine Hat College to be a frontrunner in integrating new innovation into our teaching to give our students a leg up in employable skills and experience. By introducing the theory and technology into our paramedic curriculum, along with providing experiential learning opportunities like these, our students are at the forefront of a significant change in practice.”

MHC offers both an Advanced Care Paramedic Diploma and Bachelor of Applied Health Science Paramedic Degree. Additional program information can be found here.