FAIRFIELD — Pilot Timothy Kolysko circled the Solano Community College campus Wednesday in the new turquoise and orange Calstar helicopter.
When he came in for a landing, with flight nurse Mike Davidson on board, the nearby trees were whipped into a frenzy along with a microburst of already downed leaves and dust.
Students watched avidly and took pictures of the California Shock Trauma Air Rescue Ambulance as it landed on the grass out in front of the campus, near the administration building that’s being renovated.
While the students might have been thrilled to simply watch the machine land, they, along with their instructor and the department dean, were more thrilled the event was able to take place.
“This will be the very first time they’ve actually come (to campus) to provide an educational opportunity,” said Maurice McKinnon, the dean of the health sciences division.
Calstar, along with the Cordelia Fire Protection District, came to provide a hands-on learning experience for emergency medical technician students. It’s something John Zimmerman, the EMT adjunct instructor, would like to see repeated each semester.
He said the experience of loading and unloading patients, along with learning how to communicate with an air ambulance crew, is invaluable. The experience also gave them a working idea as to how law enforcement, the fire department, the ambulance company and the air ambulance crew work together in an emergency situation.
“I don’t know why we haven’t done it before,” said Zimmerman, who brought it to McKinnon’s attention that he was interested in providing this type of learning experience for the students. “This will be a very valuable training for them.”
Davidson, who attended Solano College’s fire academy in 2004, gave the students, which also included a couple of nursing students, a rundown on the overall nonprofit Calstar organization, what they do and different flight areas Calstar covers, among other topics. A few students also experienced loading a patient onto a gurney and into the tight quarters of the rear of the helicopter.
“I want one of you at each of the corners,” Davidson said to students Kevin Beacham, Erin Taylor and Rick Custodio as they got ready to lift the gurney. “On three: One, two, three.”
Nursing student Ruben Lopez played the role of the second flight nurse, directing the “emergency personnel” with the gurney into the helicopter.
Lopez, a first-year nursing student, said the experience helped him realize the career path of a flight nurse might meld the two areas of nursing he’s most interested in: emergency room and intensive care unit.
“I think this is a nice combination,” he said.
Davidson likened the inside of an air ambulance to a “flying intensive care unit.”
Beacham, an EMT student who wants to be a firefighter/paramedic, also saw a possible alternate career.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s opening up more career paths. This is new to me.”
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.