First responders must be prepared for and ready to react to any possible emergency situation, many of which are people’s worst fears. On December 12, 2017, Sask Polytech, the Regina Police Service (RPS) and STARS came together through a simulated armed intruder exercise that saw each organization achieve a number of learning objectives.

“Experiences of this aptitude are second-to-none,” says Lindsey Boechler, program head for Sask Polytech’s paramedic programs and School of Health Sciences. “It allows our students to experience real world situations in a safe environment, enhancing their ability to address complex or unfamiliar situations upon graduation.”

The scenario consisted of three phases: An initial response by a RPS constable and paramedic students; the initial arrival of RPS Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team, approximately 40 minutes later; and, finally a focus on the RPS Crisis Negotiator Team (CNT). STARS played an important role after RPS SWAT arrived. Each phase had their own learning goals and provided opportunity for observation to enhance overall learning.

“Sask Polytech health, safety and security personnel work closely with first responders and other community safety groups to ensure we create a safe learning and working environment for our campus communities,” says Wally Hurlbert, director Health, Safety and Security. “This is a great example of public service teams collaborating and learning together in an effort to enhance public safety.”

“High fidelity simulation, like this exercise, allows us to find areas of strength in our practice as well as areas that need improvement,” says Boechler.

For Matthew Rosenfeld, a student in the Primary Care Paramedic program, the experience was a great way to apply concepts and procedures learned in the classroom into a real life scenario.

“The interaction with the other agencies was an incredibly beneficial experience. Inter-agency communication can be difficult, and this scenario allowed us to identify and correct some issues,” says Rosenfeld.

Primary Care Paramedic student Jenna Gliddon says the experience helps her and her classmates prepare for a career in emergency services.

“We do lots of practice scenarios throughout the program but to be able to use all of our resources in a life-like emergency situation, this gave us a taste of what to expect in those kinds of situations while on the job,” says Gliddon. “To be able to work alongside RPS and STARS was beneficial, especially considering we will be working with them in our careers at some point.”

While nothing is planned for future simulation events, Boechler says that should another opportunity arise, the school would be happy to participate.

“It is a great experience… This exercise drove change, which will help us save lives in the future.”