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'This is a gold mine for us;' New 'simrig' gives high school students real-life EMS training

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Posted at 7:41 AM, Oct 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-14 10:04:34-04

PETERSBURG, Va. — A new EMS program at Petersburg High School is giving students first-hand experience of what it's like to be a first responder, leaving many of the students inspired to help save lives.

The program is now in its second year, but they've added something new this year to give students more real world experience — a simulator rig ambulance.

The "simrig" is essentially a real ambulance, that is attached to a trailer instead of a driver cab. It was awarded to the school through their diploma plus initiative, and it comes with state-of-the-art, real-life tools that first responders use.

"We knew that there was a need and health and medical in the health and medical field," Terrie Allsbrooks, Director of College and Career readiness for PBPS, said. "So, we sought after ways of making sure our kids would be ready as soon as they finish high school, or whether they were going to college, to go into those fields and help with the need.

"This is a goldmine for us, for the kids, for the future," said Alonzo Dodson, the class instructor.

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Dodson is a retired firefighter. He said the rig allows students to be put into real-life scenarios and train like a real first responder.

"I can give them a scenario, they can work the call, and we can sit there and watch them to make sure that they're handling the call that were supposed to be handled, so that when we send them out into the field, that they have a working knowledge of what the expectations are in the field when they're working with the seasoned veterans on the field and the citizens," Dodson said.

"I really like this class because I'm interested in the human body, like I just like learning every little detail about it, so way before I still wanted to become a nurse and possibly a doctor," said Brianna Field, a junior at Petersburg High.

"It really helps us because when we apply at a medical school or like any post colleges, they'll accept us because we already had the degree for the school," said another student, Cion Greene.

The school district set a goal to have at least 80% of their students graduate with something more than a high school diploma by 2024 — meaning they'd also leave with some type of degree, certification or internship.

The school also plans to create more career programs that will allow students to learn other trades and skills before graduating high school.