The winners of this year's JEMS Games clinical competition, Cumberland County EMS/Duplin County. They are, from left, Larry Smith, coach Dave Cuddeback, Brian Pearce and Lee Westbrook. (Photo Glen Ellman/EMS Today)
This might have been the first JEMS Games competition for this year's winners, Cumberland County EMS/Duplin County, but they're definitely not novices. In fact, even though they come from two different services and have never worked together, the individual members have been competing together for about 10 years.
"We've always wanted to compete together," said team member Brian Pearce, CCEMT-P, NREMT-P, who is the director of Duplin County (N.C.) EMS. "We all live in the same community, and careers have taken us in separate ways. That's why we always come back together to compete."
They have competed in state and regional competitions and have run through 10 or 20 scenarios, coordinated by team captain Dave Cuddeback, CCEMT-P, CICP, NREMT-P, who is the Duplin County (N.C.) EMS training officer.
But all that training couldn't prepare them for the final scenario -- a bus crash with nine patients with an array of trauma and medical concerns, including the driver who is entrapped.
"We were expecting a lot of patients. To what extent, we didn't know," said team member Lee Westbrook, CCEMT-P, EMT-P.
The Friday night final scenario, which included footage from CNN.com from the Friday morning bus crash in Maricopa County, Arizona that killed six and wounded the other 16 passengers. It was an eerie coincidence that serves as a reminder that though the JEMS Games are a competition, they train providers for real-life scenarios.
"They're showcasing their talent in a scenario, and that talent translates later to what they actuallly do in every day care," JEMS Games Coordinator Chad Brocato said.
The second-place team was from Sussex County (Del.) EMS. Team members were Mike Carunchio, Jef Cox, Stu Hensley and Jill Wix. Third place went to Regional EMS Authority (REMSA) in Reno, Nev. Team members were Paul Burton, Matt Dixon, Adam Heinz and Chris Watson. This was the sixth year teams from these agencies competed in the JEMS Games.