Seniors from Pleasantville High School got a glimpse of everyday life in a trauma ward Friday as part of a new program called 3D that’s geared toward educating teens on safe behaviors.
The group of 19 teenagers was the first to participate in the project established by the trauma center and related units at Atlanticare Regional Medical Center’s City Campus in Atlantic City.
A tour of the different units and detailed accounts of trauma incidents experienced each day at the hospital helped educate the teens. Students also participated in hands-on activities related to CPR and transferring a body with possible spinal or neck injuries. The tour of the hospital’s units included the trauma bay, morgue, blood bank and ICU.
“I’m glad they are going into this much depth and sharing down-to-Earth stories about kids their age. Like they told them, ‘This is where your parents will come to identify you’ in the morgue. And the reiteration of ‘We don’t want to see you here,’” said Michelle Stevenson, a health and physical education teacher at the high school. “Whoever came up with this idea, it was long-overdue — so, kudos to them.”
Lindsey Heacook and Dr. Kelly Willman from the trauma center told students exactly what their experiences had been with patients their age. At the beginning of the day, some students had expressed an interest in the medical field.
“I overheard someone say in the hallway that they don’t think they want to be a nurse anymore,” Stevenson said later in the tour.
The teens seemed affected by the visit to the morgue, as Heacook answered questions about the setup of the huge freezer — including how many bodies it could hold and the way they are organized. While the students did not get an actual peek inside, the images of parents coming to identify dead bodies, toe tags and bodies of infants left frozen for months was enough to make some leave the room — one in tears — before the discussion was over.
“It is the worst part of my job to tell your parents, ‘You won’t see your child graduate,’” Willman said.
“I don’t want to ever see you here,” she told the students.
Often, teens think they are invincible and that there are no consequences for engaging in risky behaviors, said Heacook and Monica Titus, trauma program director.
“We want them to get out of the ‘it won’t happen to me’ mentality,” said Heacook, a trauma outreach coordinator. “Teenagers tend to take more risks, and these are at the age where they are going to proms and parties.”
The program was created as a community education program to include and target teenagers in the community, a population that was not previously focused on.
“We have an infant-education program and an elderly program, but nothing for teenagers. There was a gap, and we needed a program to address that group,” Heacook said.
“It was good we got to see the ins and outs, because when you visit the hospital you only see the elevator and then whoever you come to visit. I didn’t know this place had a morgue and a pharmacy,” said 18-year-old Edwin Chaparro.
Miss Atlantic County also made an appearance to tell her peers about the dangers of texting and driving. Her interest stems from a campaign she began before getting into pageantry, said Lindsey Giannini,18. She was able to put signs up in her hometown of Hammonton to warn against texting and driving, and is now trying to get the signs supported by legislators for more widespread use.
“Really, these kids are amazing,” Heacook said. “They are very engaged and are asking great questions.”
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