Paramedic science students head to the scene of the crime

Paramedic students from the Faculty of Health, Social Care and EducationParamedic science students are getting the chance to enter the world of deerstalkered sleuthery and hi-tech forensic crime busting, as part of an innovative learning initiative.

The trainee paramedics at the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education will be taking part in role-play scenarios at the ‘scene-of-crime’ house used by Kingston University’s forensic science students to practise their field skills. The property is set up to simulate real-life crime scene situations, including appropriate criminal investigation paraphernalia and role-playing actors to make the experience as authentic as possible.

The forensic science students have been using the residential property for a number of years, but this term the house has also been opened up as a location for paramedic training. The initial session in January involved two days of paramedic-only training simulations, covering mental health, trauma and advanced life support.

However, next month the paramedics – based at the Faculty, run jointly by Kingston and St George’s – will be joining forensic science students for a joint crime scene day.

This initiative encourages inter-professional learning by giving the two groups of students the opportunity to work together, to develop their understanding of how they would collaborate under the complex demands of a real crime scene. Each training scenario is supported with expert feedback from teaching staff, with debriefings involving video playbacks.

The ‘scene-of-crime’ house used by Kingston University’s forensic science students.The sessions in the scene-of-crime house have been arranged in response to feedback from students, which has previously highlighted that some students felt under prepared for the workplace. Traditionally, skills are taught in the classroom and put into practice under the guidance of placement mentors. This is not always ideal as mentors are of varying standards. In addition, some classroom skills extend the boundaries of current practice and students need a safe environment in which to test the practicalities of implementation of these new skills.

The scheme also helps provide the students with the skills to overcome the many practical challenges to the delivery of optimum patient care.

Lisa Burrell, senior lecturer in paramedic science at the Faculty, said: “Students can feel frustrated at the artificial nature of classroom-based practice, and simulation scenarios seem to bridge this classroom-workplace gap. They have been evaluated as effective learning tools, so we wanted to give them the opportunity to engage with what they have been learning in a manner credible for the workplace.

“The realistic settings allow them to think through how they will approach and manage different challenges effectively.”