Group of medical students pose in helmets and fire gear for "Doc Ops Day"First-year medical residents recently arrived from all parts of the U.S. to begin the next phase of their career with the UW Health Department of Emergency Medicine in Madison. One of the first experiences these future ER doctors get during their residency is an immersive experience into the world of a first responder. Known as “Doc Ops Day,” the event is hosted in partnership with the City of Madison Fire Department and Madison College.

The half-day program, now in its thirteenth year, has the medical students trading in their scrubs for a set of firefighter gear. With MFD’s guidance, they experience what it takes to rescue a patient from the field. These young professionals handled tools to cooperatively force open a door, strategically pull an automobile away from a pinned patient, and enter a fire-damaged building through an upper window for victim removal.

The goal of Doc Ops Day is to help medical students develop an understanding and appreciation for what happens before a patient is brought to the hospital.

“The day builds a foundation for fostering ongoing collaboration, team building, and communication between our Emergency Department (ED) providers and our pre-hospital providers so that they may have a mutual appreciation of the work that each Four medical residents pose in front of large metal door with an MFD training officerother does,” said Megan Gussick, MD, Medical Director for the Madison Fire Department. “The day occurs in their first week of orientation so it truly allows for those relationships to be built and sustained throughout their residency and ideally throughout the rest of their career as ED physicians.”

We asked the future emergency room doctors what lessons they gleaned from this physically demanding experience:

“Doc Ops was a phenomenal opportunity to experience some of the most demanding aspects of fire/rescue. We in the emergency department, and our first responders out in the field, share a common goal: ensuring the health and safety of the communities we serve. We accomplish this in very different ways, and to be able to have an immersive exposure to what our first responders do on a day-to-day basis is invaluable in promoting collaboration and mutual respect. Thank you to Madison Fire Department and Madison Technical College for putting this on for us!”

A firefighter assists a medical resident with the Jaws of Life“Wearing firefighter gear, climbing ladders, going through windows, breaking door locks, and using power tools were definitely not on the list of things I thought I would be doing during residency orientation. Despite the heat, sweat, and learning that I am so out of shape, Doc Ops was one of the best experiences I’ve had in medicine so far. I gained immense respect for the work that firefighters do in the pre-hospital world. I was surprised by the physical demands of the job and inspired by the firefighters’ resilience and perseverance. It was an experience of a lifetime, and I hope to be able to carry the Jaws of Life® without assistance in the future.”

UW faculty assisting with the day were: Megan Gussick, MD; Michael Kim, MD; and Michael Spigner, MD, EMT-P.

City of Madison Fire Department personnel assisting with the day were the Fire Training Division, Ladder Co. 8 (‘A’ shift) for extrication, Engine Co. 14 (‘A’ shift) for fire attack, and the fire chiefs.

This blog was authored by Apparatus Engineer Lori Kneebone-Karst.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Fire and a link back to the original post.