For Chief Tomahawk

RHINELANDER – A training exercise recently held at Nicolet College in Rhinelander gave students from several different academic fields the opportunity to work together to help someone in an emergency.

Nicolet said about 60 people participated in or observed the exercise, including students and instructors from the college’s criminal justice, emergency medical services, nursing, social services and substance abuse counselor programs. . Students from Rhinelander High School’s Raise Your Voice club, which focuses on advocating for mental health issues, were also in attendance.

“Students from participating university programs don’t really interact much when they’re on campus, so we wanted to create an exercise where they all had to work together in a professional capacity,” said Dilya St. Louis, nursing educator at Nicolet. , who led the coordination of the simulation. “Once these students graduate and start their careers, it will be common for them to work with other people from different professions. We wanted to give them that experience, to interact with each other, and for them all to practice the specialized skills they learned in Nicolet’s labs and classrooms.

The training scenario began with a call to 911 to alert authorities to a man acting strangely on campus.

“Criminal justice students responded to the scene to assess the situation and establish initial contact with the distressed individual,” Nicolet said. “After determining that the individual was suicidal, armed with a knife and intoxicated by alcohol and prescription drugs, the students responded by defusing the situation, removing the knife and securing the scene safely for that EMS students can begin to provide care.”

After stabilizing the patient, they transported him by ambulance to Lakeside Center’s “Nicolet Hospital”, where Nicolet nursing students took over to provide care.

The simulation ended after students from social services and substance abuse counselors and local professionals conducted their assessment and determined a long-term care plan.

Photo courtesy of Collège Nicolet.

“At each stage of the scenario, students from one university program had to coordinate and communicate with students from a different program each time the patient moved to the next stage of the scenario,” St. Louis said. “Over the years we have noticed that even though students have strong technical skills, there can be a lack of skills in communicating effectively with others. We wanted to put them in a situation where they had to communicate with people outside their profession, and I have to say they all did well. It took them out of their comfort zone and they learned new skills.

St. Louis added that it also helps students feel a little more comfortable having difficult conversations with patients.

“It can be difficult to ask a patient if they were planning to kill themselves, if they wanted to kill themselves,” St. Louis said. “But it’s very important information to know in order to give them the best and most appropriate care possible.”

Second semester nursing student Michael Giudilli observed the entire exercise.

“It was undoubtedly an incredibly impactful experience for everyone involved,” he said. “What really stands out is the critical importance of effective communication in situations like this and on so many different levels. This helps everyone react appropriately to achieve a positive outcome for the patient.

Funding for the mental health simulation was provided by the Wisconsin Northern Highland Area Health Education Center (AHEC). Nicolet said AHEC brought the idea of ​​a rural simulation experience to Nicolet College in 2021. AHEC and Nicolet have partnered to develop the curriculum for the program, including designing it as an approach multidisciplinary team based communication and as an introduction to the social determinants of health.

“AHEC frequently partners with post-secondary institutions and community organizations to advance their mission of improving health equity in rural and underserved communities through educational and training that aim to increase the diversity, distribution and development of the health workforce,” Nicolet said.

For more information on vocational training opportunities at Collège Nicolet, visit or call the college at 715-365-4493.