BANGOR — Five paramedic students and two instructors from Eastern Maine Community College and Kennebec Valley Community College paramedic programs traveled to the South American country of Guyana to participate in a service-based learning project helping the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation build a first-of-its-kind emergency medical system.

Guyana currently lacks a modern EMS system. Although there are ambulances available, there are no trained personnel to staff them. There is no 911 system, and injured and ill persons typically go without any form of pre-hospital emergency care. During the five-day visit, students conducted observational rotations in the various units of the Georgetown Public Hospital and were paired with a Guyanese nurse who had trained as an EMS instructor. These exchanges fostered a better understanding of global health perspectives and benefited each participant greatly, organizes said.

EMCC students Kelly Stewart and Christy Pugsley encountered injuries rarely seen in Maine, such as poisonous snake bites. The team also assisted an understaffed emergency department crew to resuscitate a man suffering from electrocution. Stewart said of the experience, “The Georgetown Public Hospital does not have an automatic ventilator and this provided a new challenge to me in assisting the doctors and nurses.” Stewart manually ventilated the man for more than an hour as her colleagues worked to save the man’s life.

EMCC and KVCC students teamed up to teach classes for future Guyanese emergency medical dispatchers.

At least one Guyanese instructor will to travel to the United States this fall to further his education. EMCC, KVCC and Maine-based Atlantic Partners EMS plan to establish the trip to Guyana as an annual service learning project for students on both campuses.