Saturday October 6, 2012

GREAT BARRINGTON -- Danielle Guidi had an emergency on her hands at Fairview Hospital on Friday afternoon.

She tried to wake up her patient, Joe, but he didn’t respond. Then she realized he wasn’t breathing, nor did he have a pulse.

"What do you do next," asked Jim Rintoul, a cardiopulmonary respiratory therapist at Fairview.

"Call for help and begin compressions," said Guidi, who received an approving nod from Rintoul.

So far, so good in this simulated experience with Joe the medical mannequin.

Guidi was among nine students from Mount Everett Regional High School who visited Fairview on Friday for a full-day introduction to the medical field -- from emergency response and laboratory work to food service and facilities maintenance.

A total of 10 young women are currently taking a new elective course offered this fall at Mount Everett called First Responders.

It is taught by Roberta Sarnacki, who regularly teaches instructional technology at the school but is also a trained EMT and serves as the police chief for the town of Otis. She said the course follows the state curriculum for first responders, a 40-hour requirement. At the end of the semester, the students will test for and hopefully earn their certification as emergency responders.

In the spring, Sarnacki said, she will teach a medical office specialist course.

"It’s a good introduction for a career," said Guidi, a senior, who is also an intern at the hospital and hopes to become a nurse.

Sarah Ackerman, a junior, and senior Haley Finn said they weren’t prepared for their experience in scrubbing up and heading into the operating room to watch two sinus procedures on Friday, but they said it helped them better understand what they’d like to do in the future.

"Before, I was iffy about want I was interested in, but now I definitely want to go into the medical field," Ackerman said.

Doreen Hutchinson, Fairview Hospital’s chief nurse and executive vice president of operations, said that the hospital does intentional community outreach in hopes of growing its own medical professionals.

"It’s hard to attract medical professionals in rural America," she said.

Hutchinson said that though Fairview has low turnover, the staff are veterans with an average age of 47 years old. "They’re going to be retiring," she said.

Fairview offers a medical camp for younger students and internship and job shadow experiences for high-school-aged students. The hospital also programs to help these students transition into nursing school with incentives of a flexible work schedules, as well as program funding and scholarships.