male and female students inside an ambulance performing health skills on a patient

Nicolet College, AHEC Partner for Real-world Health Response Scenario Training 


Nothing beats real-world, on-the-job experience when honing professional skills. 

Many Nicolet College students got as close to that as possible when they recently participated in two different simulation training scenarios that closely mimicked real world situations. 

The first exercise, called the Burn Sim, had students team up with professionals in their area of expertise to extract and treat burn victims from a simulated house fire. The second simulation, the Partners in Health: Northwoods Mental Health Sim conducted in partnership with Wisconsin Northern Highland Area Health Education Center (AHEC), had teams respond to an individual having a mental health crisis.         

“No matter emergency, professionals from several different fields will often need to work together efficiently and effectively to give the patients the highest level of care possible,” said Jolene Guenthner, Nicolet Medical Assistant Program director and Instructor. 

“We wanted students to experience that before they graduate. It’s often a high-stress situation. Everyone needs to keep a level head, use the training that they have received, and communicate effectively as the patient moves from team to team, from stage to stage of the treatment protocol.” 

For the Burn Sim, the multi-faceted exercise started with a 911 call to report two individuals trapped inside a burning building, prompting a response by Firefighters, who then entered the college’s smoke-filled Burning Building to extract the victims. 

Once outside, Paramedic and Emergency Medical Services students assessed the extent of patients’ injuries, initiated care, and transported the patients by ambulance to the Nicolet Emergency Room, otherwise known as the college’s Nursing Lab. 

While enroute students in the ambulance had to radio ahead to pass on as much medical information as possible to the waiting Nursing students who then prepped the ER for the patients. 

 The Partners in Health: Northwoods Mental Health Sim followed a similar format, with teams from different professions working together and in succession to help an individual who experienced a mental health crisis while in a group counseling session. 

“The goal of the simulation was to understand the importance of communication in all aspects of patient care,” said Gail Kell, director of the Northern Highland AHEC region. “From the way we communicate with patients, internal teams, across departments, and with those outside of our networks, it all has an impact on effective patient care and health outcomes.” 

In all, more than 100 individuals participated in or observed the Mental Health Sim. This included students, instructors and working professionals from the from Law Enforcement, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Substance Use Disorder Counseling, Phlebotomy, Medical Assistant, and Nursing. 

Students from Rhinelander High School and Nicolet’s Raise Your Voice Club, which focuses on advocacy for mental health issues, AHEC Scholars, and UW- Madison Physician Assistant rural tract students also attended. 

All involved in both simulations also expressed a sincere “thank you” to Aspirus Health for the extensive number of staff and amount of resources the organization brought onto campus for the training exercises. 

Wisconsin AHEC and Nicolet developed the curriculum for the mental health simulation together in 2021, and the event continues to be funded by Wisconsin Northern Highland AHEC. 

AHEC offers a variety of education and training programs designed to increase the diversity and distribution of the healthcare workforce and enhance healthcare quality and delivery in rural and medically underserved communities across Wisconsin’s 72 counties. AHEC serves over 5,000 learners annually including high school students, college and health professions students, and currently practicing healthcare professionals. 

Pictured above: Nicolet College Nursing students Michael Giudilli, left, and Mariah Freeman, right, work with a burn patient inside an Aspirus ambulance and prepare the patient for transport by an Aspirus MedEvac helicopter, which is in the far background and landed in a Nicolet parking for the exercise. Also in the background are Nicolet students observing the preparation for transport.