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Weed Army Community Hospital staffers show off their skills

Medical personnel, wearing a mask, practicing skills on a dummy Army Sgt. Maureen Kang, a licensed practical nurse with Weed Army Community Hospital’s Medical Surgical Ward, triages a simulated casualty during the team competition portion of the hospital’s skills fair January 21 at the Mary E. Walker Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. (Photo by Kimberly Hackbarth, Weed Army Community Hospital Public Affairs.)

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Weed Army Community Hospital staff members showed what they could do – and learned some things they couldn’t – at a skills fair January 21 at the Mary E. Walker Center.

Army Capt. Megan Jensen, a clinical staff nurse with Weed ACH on Fort Irwin in California, helped plan and run the event.

“[The event is] basically a catch-all of skills that we need either to review based on things that have happened at the hospital or things that we don’t do very often that we want to keep skilled in,” Jensen said.

First, participants visited different stations and learned or revisited skills such as emergency code recognition and response, estimating blood loss, and first responder familiarization.

Jensen enlisted the help of Company C, 2916th Aviation Battalion for the final station on the airfield where a flight crew from C Company spoke with hospital staff about medical evacuation procedures.

“We do a lot of transfers from the hospital, both from the [emergency room] and from [mother-baby unit] and a lot of people aren’t familiar with who we transfer or why we transfer them or what capabilities we have,” Jensen said.

The second part of the event featured a team competition where staff could apply the skills reviewed during the first half.

Army Sgt. Maureen Kang, a licensed practical nurse with Weed ACH’s medical surgical ward, explained how the event benefitted her.

“Seeing what 500 milliliters of blood loss is gave me perspective so that in the future if any of these situations do occur, I know exactly how to be prepared and what to expect,” she said.

Though LPNs like Kang participated, Jensen said all hospital staff were invited to attend.

“It’s open to everybody who works at the hospital because a lot of the stations have to do with non-medical things, and we’ve picked the scenarios for each station based on things that have happened at Fort Irwin,” Jensen said.

The fair also focused heavily on COVID-19 with skills including COVID-19 screening criteria, managing a patient on a mechanical ventilator, and COVID-19 swabbing techniques.

“Typically, we take care of anyone from newborns to the geriatric population [on the medical surgical ward], including COVID-19 patients, so we can easily be working with ventilators like in the skills fair,” Kang said.

Hospital staff continued to take COVID-19 precautions during the event to ensure a safe learning environment.

“The fact that we’re able to hold this kind of event is because we were all wearing masks and maintaining our social distancing and practicing good hand hygiene, so it’s a good reminder for the community that wearing masks is essential,” Kang said.

More than 70 Weed ACH staff members attended the skills fair with positive feedback upon completing the event.

“As an LPN, I think this is just a great fun way to refresh my skills to know that these incidents do happen,” Kang said. “It’s good to refresh our skills and just make sure we are keeping our skills up to date.”

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