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These new emergency medicine residents get crash course in what happens before patients reach the hospital
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Northeast Georgia Medical Center emergency medical residents go through a burn room Monday, July 11, 2022, at the Hall County Fire Services Training Center on Allen Creek Road. - photo by Scott Rogers

Rappelling down the side of a tower and using the “jaws of life” to extract someone trapped inside a wrecked car — these were just a couple of the training exercises performed by the inaugural class of emergency medicine residents enrolled at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center. 

A dozen residents preparing to become emergency physicians began their training Monday at the Gainesville/Hall County Joint Fire Training Facility. The three-year residency begins with a week-long training that familiarizes residents with medicine outside of the hospital, before patients actually arrive in the emergency room. 

“It's a big part of medical care is knowing what the challenges are that personnel face before they actually transport a patient for us,” said Ziad Faramand, who moved from Jordan to enroll in the program. After his residency he plans to work as an emergency physician in a small, tightly knit community. 

“One of the strengths of our programs,” said Andy Ball, medical director at the Hall County Fire Department and emergency room physician at the hospital, is that it provides a “robust experience” of what he called pre-hospital medicine. 

“I wanted them to get a good handle on what things are like out in the field because practicing medicine in a hospital is totally different from practicing medicine in the field,” he said.

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Northeast Georgia Medical Center emergency medical resident Dr. Ziad Faramand pulls off emergency gear Monday, July 11, 2022, at the Hall County Fire Services Training Center on Allen Creek Road while getting a first hand taste of first responder emergency experiences. - photo by Scott Rogers

Ball said the emergency medicine program at NGMC has been two years in the making. 

“The hospital started residency programs four years ago and started with internal medicine and general surgery and family practice, and then this year they added emergency medicine and psychiatry,” Ball said. At full capacity the program will serve 36 residents. 

Spencer Masiewicz, an emergency physician at the hospital and co-director of graduate medical education at NGMC, said their residents will get more training in emergency medical services than most programs. 

“I'd say most programs have one day or half a day of exposure to EMS and the work we're doing here, but we've dedicated a whole week with our program,” he said. 

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Northeast Georgia Medical Center emergency medical residents go through training Monday, July 11, 2022, at the Hall County Fire Services Training Center on Allen Creek Road. - photo by Scott Rogers

Erin Harvath, who is part of the West Virginia Air National Guard, said the program at NGMC caught her eye because it offers more military-style training. 

“Hopefully we're going to get to go up on the airplanes with the flight nurses, like transferring critical patients, which is essentially what I'll be doing for the military,” she said. “So I kind of wanted to have a residency program to prepare me for the military side.” 

Banky Oderinde, who wants to open her own urgent care center someday, said the toughest part of the training Monday was rappelling down the tower. 

“I was shaking, but I made it,” she laughed. 

Those involved in the program, from instructors to residents, spoke about the importance of team building and the ways in which it will help physicians better serve their patients. 

“The other part of it, which is essential, is the EMS, they actually transport the sickest patients,” Faramand said. “Working closely with them just helps us manage the sickest patients better.”

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A Hall County Fire Services firefighter directs a Northeast Georgia Medical Center emergency medical residents into a fire room Monday, July 11, 2022, at the Hall County Fire Services Training Center on Allen Creek Road. - photo by Scott Rogers
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Northeast Georgia Medical Center emergency medical resident Dr. Erin Harvath prepares to enter a burn room Monday, July 11, 2022, at the Hall County Fire Services Training Center on Allen Creek Road. - photo by Scott Rogers