Student Well-Being


November 01, 2003 2 min read

It’s hard to get more hands-on than Cathy Camargo’s Emergency Medical Technicians class at Bernalillo High School. Any given week may find 11th and 12th graders suctioning vomit from windpipes, splinting broken femurs, and bandaging wounds thick with blood.

In this, the first high school EMT class in New Mexico—and one of only about 20 nationwide—the student victims may be pretending, but the gore sure looks real. That’s because Camargo has worked with makeup artists from the state’s Emergency Medical Services Bureau. To simulate victims’ burns, for instance, she applies warm latex, which rises as it cools, resembling blisters. The 49- year-old health teacher clearly relishes the creative process. “We’ve made some wonderful barf,” she says. Her recipe? Mandarin oranges, red food dye, and applesauce.

Students who take the EMT class, an honors elective, tend to have an interest in medical careers. Those who pass become certified to ride with fire department or ambulance crews as first responders. Observing that disasters can be paralyzing, Camargo added a culminating activity to her class two years ago: a drill that tests students’ wits in the face of crises.

Last year’s mock disaster began when the school’s welding teacher detonated two loud, but harmless, balloon bombs he’d made out of oxygen and acetylene, a smelly gas. When the EMT students arrived, they found a classroom that looked as if it had blown up, complete with groaning victims. They immediately set up flagged zones: severe casualties to red, those who could last an hour to yellow, “walking wounded” to green, and the dead to black. Working in teams, they made swift judgments about whom to treat and stabilized victims for transport to the hospital.

“I learned a lot about how I am under pressure,” says Briana Chavarillo, 18. “If I am ever in a scenario like that...I won’t freak out.” Classmate Elisha Lovato, 19, identifies a subtler lesson. During the drill, she recalls, the students ran to visibly injured victims and ignored the rantings of a seemingly unscathed one. They failed to see that her eccentric behavior indicated a lethal blood clot in the brain. “We had to learn to take a look at the entire scene quickly before acting,” she says. “You’ve got to pay attention to more than just the gory stuff.”

This year, rather than staging one major disaster, Camargo is planning spontaneous small-scale drills to catch students off-guard. Her ultimate aim? To help students adopt the motto that guides her teaching: “Semper Gumby,” or “Always Flexible.”

—Lillian Hsu


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being Spotlight Spotlight on New School Year Collaborations
In this Spotlight, learn where principals and teachers differ on what’s important, gain insights on collaborative learning, and more.
Student Well-Being When Teachers and School Counselors Become Informal Mentors, Students Thrive
New research shows that informal school-based mentorships lead to academic success. But not all students have equal access to mentors.
6 min read
Image of an adult and student talking as they walk down a school hallway.
Student Well-Being CDC Calls for Return to Universal Masking in Schools
Reversing a decision it made earlier this month, the federal agency said even vaccinated students and adults should wear face coverings.
6 min read
White Plains High School students walk between classes, Thursday, April 22, 2021, in White Plains, N.Y.
Students walk between classes at White Plains High School in White Plains, N.Y., earlier this year.
Mark Lennihan/AP
Student Well-Being What the Research Says Here's One Way to Keep School Buses Safe During the Pandemic
With nearly all students expected to return to campus in the fall, districts will face big challenges transporting large groups safely.
2 min read
Elementary school students sit on board a school bus after attending in-person classes at school in Wheeling, Ill., on Nov. 19, 2020. Keeping masks on and windows open can reduce the risk of COVID-19, even when students cannot keep distant, new research suggests.
Elementary school students wearing masks sit on board a school bus after attending in-person classes in Wheeling, Ill., last November.
Nam Y. Huh/AP