Simulations with the USB Bomberos

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Simulations with the USB Bomberos

The University of Simon Bolivar firefighters really are an incredible organization. They are all volunteers – nearly all students – and when not in the classroom, they’re at the station waiting for calls, training, and doing what firefighters do. Today that meant helping our EMT program with simulations. And boy, they really outdid themselves.

We spent the morning practicing different firefighter carries, drags and lifts from their commander, Aldo Yallonardo. This wasn’t the typical stuff the students in our course are accustomed to, working as urban emergency responders, but important skills for a well-rounded EMT and paramedic. One of the maneuvers we spent the most time with was backboarding – placing and stabilizing a patient upon a rigid board for transport. In the States, this is a crucial skill that all responders know down pat, and we were able to teach some helpful tricks to the Bomberos and Paramedics in the course today. Then, in the afternoon we ran the scenarios.

The Bomberos introduced us to a handful of situations, such as a car crash and an electrician’s fall from a ladder, and had everyone determine what potential dangers in the scene could be prevented, mitigated and eliminated. Next we went to the oldest building on campus, the home for firefighters’ simulations. The building was abandoned a few years back due to irreparable structural deterioration, and now it’s filled with all sorts of obstacles and hazards, making it a perfect place to train. If that weren’t enough, Aldo and his crew lit firecrackers and tossed four-foot fluorescent bulbs in the buildings to distract us. In total, we and the students mock-responded to chemical explosion, a motorcycle crash, a car crash. Fake blood and makeup was used extensively, and the Bomberos even went so far as to have the students load the patient from the car crash into the ambulance and do a 10-minute drive around the campus, as fast as they would in a real response. If anyone from the Bomberos is reading this: Thanks for a great day!

Tomorrow, the three of us are going to Petare, one South America’s largest slums. Vision Salud, a student health organization at the University Central de Venezuela, is organizing a day of temporary clinics to test anything from blood glucose to blood pressure. We’re helping administer some of the tests. Between our ride-alongs with Salud Chacao and the Hospital Ortopedico Infantil, we are becoming familiar with some of Venezuela’s best health and health care programs. Tomorrow, we’ll see something else altogether.


The Bomberos make their incoming students train hard. To those in Macalester First Aid…there may be some workouts in your near future!