Sask. STARS ambulance team heads to international skills competition

The competition is taking place in Fort Worth, Texas.

This is the first time a team from Saskatchewan has advanced this far

Flight paramedic Shannon Koch and Thomas Froh are the first STARS air ambulance team from Saskatchewan to compete in an international critical care skills competition. (Supplied/STARS)

For the first time, two members of Saskatchewan's STARS air ambulance crew will be heading south of the border to participate in an international skills competition.

Flight nurse Thomas Froh explained the competition involves responding to number of different — and often complicated — simulated scenarios.  

He and his partner, flight paramedic Shannon Koch, are provided with very basic information before they are thrown into a mock emergency scene.

The duo have previously competed in Western Canadian skills competitions and Koch said the most difficult part is dealing with unexpected twists that are usually included, such as additional patients added midway through a scene.

"In the midst of a competition you're always kind of waiting for that twist and sometimes that's part of it is that there is no twist," she told CBC-Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend

Koch says the competitions help hone their medical skills for when they are in the back of a helicopter responding to a real-life emergency. (STARS air ambulance)

She said competitions are unpredictable environments, which is why the pair spend hours practicing.

"We're working hard to get really good at what we know so that we're prepared for stuff that we don't know."

Skills translate to real life

The pair are the first team from Saskatchewan to qualify to compete in an international critical care skills competition at the Air Medical Transport Conference in Fort Worth, Texas on Oct. 16 and 17.

"There's a lot of responsibility to perform well on the North American stage," Froh said.

Koch said during the upcoming competition, many air medical practitioners will be watching, explaining the overall vibe of such events are competitive yet supportive.

What's most interesting about about simulated competitions is participants' brains do not differentiate between what is fake and what is a real emergency, she added.

Koch explained they work hard to respond to simulated scenes exactly how they would in the back of the helicopter and in that way, the competitions help hone their quick thinking and medical abilities. 

With files from CBC-Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend