When we think of emergency preparedness, the last word that comes to mind is student. However, students from Coachella Valley High School (CVHS) continue to prove that they can contribute to a safe campus and reach out to the community to address unmet health awareness needs.
Students need more than what lectures and the internet provide. With limited opportunities for work-based learning, opportunities must be reimagined. Some schools have incorporated academy models which provide learning in the classroom and career fields of their choosing. High school students interested in health careers, who normally earn job shadow experience, lost most positions in the wake of COVID. The learning needed to continue, so job shadowing had to be reconceptualized.
We couldn’t retreat to the classroom without re-emerging with some level of work experience. Working with organizations that never close would become key to the “new” work-based learning model. The County of Riverside County Office of Emergency Management (RivCo EMD) Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) was already a partner of high schools throughout the county. Along with Innercare and Flying Doctors, RivCo EMD worked with CVHS Health Academy to build work-based models into field and in-school settings.
Desert Healthcare District’s Community Health Needs Assessment identified the eastern Coachella Valley as an area with dozens of unmet needs such as decreased access to health care, high incidents of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and general access to health care. As a project with RivCo MRC, CVHS would create Student Screening Services: Health screenings for our community.
On scheduled days, under the supervision of certified faculty, students provide non-invasive screenings for participants who would otherwise not be able to obtain them due to schedule constraints, limited resources or lack of health insurance. Based on the findings, students would also provide health education, then refer uninsured subjects to Innercare for follow-up care and an application for health insurance.
Also working with RivCo EMD and CVHS school administration, CVHS students created SOS: Save Our Schools program. During teacher professional development days, students would provide Stop the Bleed, emergency jump bag training and practice scenarios such as on-site medical, shelter-in-place and active threats training.
From their efforts, two of the four CVHS MRC teams earned top honors at the HOSA-Future Health Professionals California State Leadership Conference in March 2023. Team Cardoso, Lopez, Lucas, Lombera, Paz and Ysiano claimed the gold medal for MRC projects, and team Aceves, Coronado, Garcia, Mejia, Mendoza and Vega claimed bronze.
In a time when campus safety preparation should be at its highest, when students are part of the plan working with public, private and nonprofit agencies, education truly happens.
The best part is that the program is gaining popularity within the eastern Coachella Valley. Teams are being requested at events and will expand their Student Screening Services and Save Our Schools model to other schools. Working with OneFuture CV in the fall, the team will participate in an Incident Management Summit, where leaders of public safety will gather with educators to address campus safety strategies and best practices.
Simon Moore is the CVHS Health Academy Coordinator and has worked for over 25 years in emergency medical services and career technical education.