ATLANTA - To know what to do in a medical emergency, you have to practice.
So, Sergeant Len Chanthalangsy and two dozen Georgia Army National Guard medics gather around a car parked inside the Grady EMS Academy in Northwest Atlanta, to practing extricating victims of a motor vehicle wreck.
Sgt. Chanthalangsy, who works for Georgia Power in his civilian life, says they’ve been studying what to do in case of an emergency, step by step, for nearly a month now.
But this drill feels real.
"It's sensory overload, that is the number one thing,” says the 34-year old. “You come in and the scene is very dynamic. And you go through and you're, like, 'What's next, what's next?"
The medics are going through an intense 5-week advanced EMT training course with Grady EMS.
Specialist Elijah Underwood, who is from Social Circle, hopes to one day work as an Army flight paramedic.
Practicing with the mock car accident, he says, is giving him experience he might need.
"It's making sure you do the right thing at the right time,” Underwood says. “Don't let go of the patient, and let him fall, or something like that. Making sure the patient is going to get out safe."
Most of these medics are young, and new to the military. They have their EMT basic certification, but they’ve never had to use it on the battlefield because they haven’t yet been deployed.
"I love to see this, when you see soldiers and medics being able to learn more,” says
Major Jeremiah Laxson is a medical officer with the Georgia Guard.
"Right now we're just trying to expand their capabilities to handle traumas, burns, things of that nature that they would see on the battlefield,” he says.
But there's another reason for the training. Most of these Guard members have civilian jobs, and need training to move up -- or, maybe, find a new job.
There’s also a benefit for Grady, says Bill Compton, the Senior VP for Grady EMS.
"And for us, as a large health care institution in Atlanta, it gives us the opportunity to employ these Guardsmen and women in a part time and fulltime basis,” Compton says.
For now, they're getting hands on experience... in knowing what to do, when it matters.
And once these Georgia Guard medics finish their training and their testing and certification, there is a very good chance they will be offered jobs working for Grady EMS.
So they could one day end up saving lives on the streets of Atlanta.