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Riverside, Calif. (Aug 6, 2015) -- California Baptist University students took part in a unique class assignment that brought a medical evacuation helicopter to the Front Lawn for a mock medical exercise.

The helicopter is operated by Mercy Air, a full-service air medical transport system that has served California and Nevada for 25 years. The company provides rapid emergency transportation by helicopter for critically ill and injured patients.

An ambulance and a Riverside Fire Department engine were also part of the exercise.

The emergency responders and "injured" volunteers gave various students a chance to turn their classroom knowledge into a hands-on experience.

Participants in the mock medical scenario took turns assessing the injuries, immobilizing the patients and then relaying information to the various Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel at the scene.

Bill Donald, adjunct faculty in the department of kinesiology, planned the scenario. Donald said he wanted students to gain experience working in an emergency setting, communicating with other medical personnel and become familiar with the EMS system.

"This will also build up their confidence when they deal with the real thing," said Donald. "Experience is the primary goal that I want them to gain from this."

The training exercise also brought students closer to the reality of emergency evacuations. 

"Having the ambulance and the medevac here changed the situation in your mind to be a little more serious," said student Anna Garduno. "It gave you an opportunity to put everything into practice and look at areas where maybe you need to continue to practice and work on."

The students also had the opportunity to take a close-up look at the helicopter and to talk with the three-member flight crew from Mercy Air and learn about what their jobs entail.

"[In class] we practice a lot of scenarios and today we really got to see several [emergency] occupations come together to care for the health of a patient," said student Zach Norton.

Dr. Nicole MacDonald, associate professor of kinesiology and program director for the athletic training education program, said mock scenarios like this teach students how to work with other health professionals and how to work under pressure.