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Billings medical students respond in mass casualty simulation at Phipps Park

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Posted at 10:05 PM, Jun 13, 2024

BILLINGS - It was a first-of-its-kind training for students of Montana's first full-time medical school in its first year of existence.

Rocky Vista University students jumped into action during a mock mass casualty incident at Phipps Park on Thursday afternoon.

The first-year medical students responded to a simulated rock slide.

They went to the scene, figured out what was needed and then brought the patients down the hill, where it would be easier to help them out with their injuries.

It’s an event for which they prepare but hope never happens.

“How to triage, how to assess the patient and what they need within seconds so that it could be really quick,” said Kali Stier, a Rocky Vista student. “And we were able to practice that.”

Stier and her classmates participated in the final simulation of the year for Rocky Vista University Montana College of Osteopathic Medicine (RVU-MCOM).

“It felt really real, and it was really exciting to be able to just see all of our skills come to fruition,” Stier said.

These students have taken classes in wilderness medicine or military medicine.

“The most important thing and even for the lay rescuer, anybody that's involved in an event where there's casualties or victims is to assess the scene safety,” said Dr. Jamie Riesberg, RVU-MCOM director of military medicine. “And make sure that you're not going to get hurt trying to help someone else.”

Riesberg served as a military physician for 24 years and went on several deployments, including two in Afghanistan.

“Well, I'd say it'd be pretty daunting if you didn't have a great team,” Riesberg said about a medical response during war.

Riesberg says teamwork is a big part of this mass casualty simulation.

“We want to give them the tools to be successful in those operational medicine environments, even though that's not a residency, they will be called upon to have certain skills that the nation expects of them being military physicians,” Riesberg said. “We're trying to build a generation of military doctors and osteopathic physicians that will work well as a team.”

“These situations could happen on the Rims. They could happen in your day-to-day life,” Stier said. “And to be able to be prepared for those has been really critical and kind of inspiring too."

In a news release, the school stated:
"The primary objectives of the drill include practicing effective communications; principles of Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC); and massive hemorrhage, airway, respiration, circulation, hypothermia/head injury (MARCH) interventions."