COVID-19 numbers force East Hall High to cancel in-person instruction beginning Monday
East Hall High School will operate remotely beginning Monday, Dec. 7, and continuing for at least three days. The Hall County School System made the announcement Friday afternoon following a significant amount of absences among staff and students resulting from COVID-19 positive cases.
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Flowery Branch students train as EMTs, build mock ambulance
Vehicle doubles as a recruitment tool for Peakes classes
Dalia Cuevas, 16, a freshman, gets more paint Tuesday while working on a mock ambulance. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Next school year, students, faculty and staff at Flowery Branch High School may hear sirens coming from the 300 hall.

Actually, there will be no siren, but that will be about the only thing missing from the mock ambulance in the health care science classroom.

Since January, Kathy Peake, the health care science technology teacher at Flowery Branch, and her students have been creating a full-size, realistic model of an ambulance.

This week, they are putting the finishing touches on the reproduction.

The ambulance, built by the school’s construction class, is a wood re-creation of the back of a real ambulance — from size to storage.

In fact, county emergency medical technicians will stop by the school today to show the students where the supplies go.

“I try to make my classes as interesting and fun as I can,” said Peake. “I want the kids to get some real life experience and some hands-on experience. I feel like this will give the students a better opportunity to understand what’s really going on in an EMS environment.”

Students who complete the “emergency career pathway” within the health care science curriculum will be certified as first responders.

A part of that pathway is emergency preparedness and medicine, which will tie in to the ambulance training.

“We’re going to be training to do what (EMTs) do, so it’s pretty much going to give us the experience and feel of what it’s going to be like,” said Vanessa Juarez, a Flowery Branch freshman who plans to sign up for the class next semester.

“I’ve always been curious because I just think it’s amazing how fast they move in there. I don’t know how they do it because it’s so crowded.”

Students will find out exactly how medical professionals do it.

Peake says she will try to use the mock ambulance on a weekly basis.

She says the advantages for students who are looking at careers in the medical field, emergency or not, are amplified with this kind of educational tool.

“Even students who are just interested in nursing or physical therapy or anything like that, they’ll benefit from this class in that they’ll learn basic first aid, how to respond to emergency situations, things like that,” said Peake. “But especially if they want to be an EMT or paramedic, this gets them strides ahead of anybody else coming right up off the street.”

The ambulance, Peake said, can also double as a recruitment tool for her classes.

Health care classes are not required and students have to sign up voluntarily to take them.

“I felt that this would be something that, if people walked by, would spark their curiosity and increase the student interest and give them some real life experience,” said Peake.

So far it’s working well.

Lesly Valencia, a freshman, signed up for two health care classes this fall because of the chance to use the ambulance.

Valencia hopes to become a nurse on her way to reaching her final goal of being a veterinarian.

“As soon as I saw it, it grabbed my attention and I signed up for (Peake’s) classes,” said Valencia. “I thought it was cool.”

Classes will train in the ambulance with working equipment, very similar to tools found in a real ambulance: intubation tubes, electronic blood pressure monitor, O2 saturation monitor, stretchers and other basic emergency services equipment

The training, at this age, Peake says, puts her students a step above the rest once in the professional world.

“There’s such a demand for health care workers, and (employers) want people with some sort of experience,” she said.

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