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German EMS workers visit MWH

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The halls of Mary Washington Hospital echoed with the mingling of English and German Friday as five first responders from Germany toured the medical facility.

MWH is the first stop on the 2½ week exchange program hosted by the Virginia Association of Volunteer Rescue Squads.

“We just want to improve relations between EMS providers across the globe,” said Kevin Dillard, president of Lifecare Medical Transports, Inc., who has been involved in the program since its inception in 1996.

Sporting cargo shorts and black polo shirts with their names on the front and the phrase “Different nations, same heartbeat” on the back, the four paramedics and one policeman met with hospital staff and officials, who walked them through the hospital’s command center, helicopter landing pad, intensive care unit, emergency room and trauma resuscitation room.

The Virginia volunteer rescue squad organization and the Deutsches Rotes Kreuz, or the German Red Cross, take turns sending a handful of first responders to visit the other country and observing first-hand how emergencies are handled on the other side of the ocean.

“I’m very interested in the American way to treat trauma patients and to see how the rescue squads are working here,” said Sabrina Onimischewski, who is a paramedic and studying medicine in Germany.

“I’m very impressed. It was so exciting to see all the different parts of [the hospital],” said Onimischewski

“We’re very proud to host them,” Dillard added. “Usually when they leave they’re just so excited about what they’ve seen here they take back a lot of great ideas.”

The visiting responders will go to various hospitals, police stations and fire departments in Virginia before ending their time in the states at the volunteer group’s convention in Virginia Beach.

To make the exchange more affordable, volunteers have opened their homes, and in one case their rescue station, to provide meals and lodging.

“We really rely on the volunteer rescue squads to help support this,” said Robert Truoccolo, one of the coordinators of the exchange program, who spent three weeks in Germany.

The exchange is not all about work though. The visitors will also be getting a taste of American culture by seeing the sights in Washington, D.C., and spending time at Busch Gardens.

Bridget Balch: 540/374-5417

bbalch@freelancestar.com

 

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