EMS students trained on Escaping Violent Encounters

Students split up into pairs along the mats set up in the gymnasium, taking turns grabbing one another by the wrist, then putting their training into effect to remove themselves from the grip.

There’s smiles and laughter as they practice, but they realize the techniques being learned are serious business. The students enrolled in the Emergency Medical Services program at Missouri Southern are among the very few students in the country to receive Escaping Violent Encounters training as part of their education.

“We do this for all of our EMT and paramedic students every semester,” says Brett Peine, director of the EMS program. “We’re essentially giving them the tools they need if they get attacked on the job. It’s really all about preventing getting attacked, but they need the physical skills to be able to respond if they do.”

Peine says studies show that 50 percent of EMS workers report getting attacked on the job. However, that number is much higher in reality.

“I was attacked three times as a paramedic, but I didn’t report it,” he says. “For whatever reason, we’ve got it in our culture that it’s just part of the job.”

Escaping Harmful Situations

Madison Anderson, a junior studying to become a paramedic, is already employed as an EMT with Metro Emergency Transport System in Joplin. The Escaping Violent Encounters training helped prepare her for what she might encounter.

“You never know what house you might be going into or what kind of situation you’re going to roll up on,” says Anderson. “We’re obviously there to help our patient, but our priority is also to keep ourselves and our partners safe.”

Austin Triplett, a freshman EMT student, says the techniques they learn in the class are all about creating space between themselves and an attacker.

“The first thing we learned is we were not being taught how to hurt people,” he says. “The techniques teach us to de-escalate a situation and keep our distance.”

The most effective self-defense tool is good customer service, says Peine.

“We teach good verbal skills to de-escalate things, and talk about not being in an unsafe scene,” he says. “They need to learn the tools so if they do get attacked, this is how they can take care of it.”

Fall 2016 School of Health Sciences

Nursing program to add spring cohort

An increase in the number of students in the nursing program, as well as a plan to have them entering the profession year round, is being met with cheers from the local medical community.

Currently, Missouri Southern admits a cohort of 60 nursing students each fall. Starting in 2017, there will be a cohort of 45 students entering the nursing program in the fall and the spring.

“The increase in student numbers is in response to the shortage of professional nurses,” said Dr. Marcia Wilmes, chair of the Nursing Department. “It also decreases pressure on our local clinical facilities. From a healthcare delivery standpoint, it’s very inefficient to have a flood of graduates in May.”

Representatives from Mercy Hospital and Freeman Health System collaborated with Missouri Southern in planning the new cohort structure. Coleen Cameron, chief nursing and regulatory officer for Freeman Health System, said she is “thrilled, to say the least.”

“Nursing schools graduate most of their students in the spring … it’s a large volume,” she said. “In the winter months, it’s more difficult to find applicants for open positions.”

Dennis Manly, chief nursing officer for Mercy Hospital, agreed. “We have a nursing shortage,” he said. “It will certainly be a benefit to have more graduates coming out of nursing school to fill the need in the Joplin area.”

Both hospitals also work with Missouri Southern to give students hands-on, clinical experience while they are still in school.

“It’s a partnership between education and practice,” said Wilmes. “Our students not only work in the acute care hospital systems, but also in community clinics and home health care services. Our students get experience in all those levels.”

Fall 2016 School of Health Sciences

Southern ambulance gets new look

Missouri Southern’s ambulance now includes the university logo, the EMS Department logo and Missouri Southern’s iconic lion head.

New Ambulance Wrap
Donated to Southern by the METS ambulance service a few years ago, the vehicle is used for simulated emergencies and promotional events. The wrapping was done by Vital Signs in Columbus, Kan. The new look comes at a time when the EMS program is gaining more visibility.

“We are currently experiencing fantastic growth in the EMS programs,” says Brett Peine, EMS director. “This means you will see more and more of our students participating in simulated emergencies in and around campus throughout the year.”

Fall 2016 School of Health Sciences

Little class on the prairie

Native Prairie provides outdoor lab for students

Gathered near several cars and trucks parked off to the side, the students break off into two groups – one group carrying nets, the other bottles of a pink liquid – and set off by foot into one of the most endangered ecosystems in North America.

“It’s unique because there aren’t a lot of universities that have what we call ‘remnant’ prairies – land that hasn’t been plowed or modified,” said Jason Willand, professor of biology and environmental health. “Less than one percent of the original prairies remain.”

“We do some mowing to keep down the vegetation, but these 40 acres are unique to this part of Missouri.”

Prairie Land


‘It’s so valuable’

The unplowed, native tall grass prairie is part of only about 75,000 acres of such land still in existence in Missouri.

Such prairies are dominated by a unique assemblage of specially adapted grasses, Mima mounds, and herbaceous flowering plants. These prairies also provide a home to a wide variety of animals, insects and bird species for students to observe and research, as well as a small area of wetland.

The acreage was not part of the original Mission Hills estate that was purchased by the Jasper County Junior College District from owners Frank and Juanita Wallower in 1964. Juanita Wallower Carter and her then-husband, Proctor Carter, gifted half of the acreage to Missouri Southern in August 1978.The other half of the land was purchased by the college.

In February 2015, the Missouri Southern Board of Governors unanimously voted to permanently set aside 14 of the 40 acres for student use as a natural laboratory. An adjacent piece of land is also available for student use.

While students studying biology and environmental health have used the prairie land for their studies, it has also been utilized by other departments – including a plein air painting class.

“The features are undisturbed and it hasn’t been plowed. I don’t know if people grasp the concept that this land has been evolving and progressing over 10,000 years,” says Randy Haase, who spent more than 30 years with the Missouri Department of Conservation and now serves as the manager of Webb City’s habitation restoration project.

“The end result of this long period is that less than half of 1 per – cent of native prairie is left in Missouri and it’s one of the most endangered areas in North America. That’s what makes the land at Missouri Southern so valuable.”

Haase has spent time on Southern’s prairie to document the plants found there in order to gain a basic idea of their diversity.

“Missouri has developed a system where every plant has an assigned conservation number, ranging from 0 to 10,” he says. “A 0 can be found anywhere there’s soil, all the way up to a 10, which aren’t necessarily rare but are specific to where they’re found at. Between 4 and 6 is pretty common, but I found a few 7s and 8s out there.”

Biology Lab

‘A great learning experience’

On this day, students are on a bug hunt, sweeping with nets and checking traps. Several mesh intercept traps are also set up, looking somewhat like abandoned tents but designed to draw in flying insects.

“We’re sweep netting to take samples of bugs that live out here on the prairie,” said Teddy Pashia, junior conservation biology major. “We’ll take them back to the lab, freeze them and see what we’ve got.”

Rachel Denton, senior conservation biology major, says the prairie provides an ideal place to explore different kinds of wildlife.

“It’s a great learning experience, even if you’re not going into the entomology field,” she says. “And it definitely helps that you don’t have to travel somewhere to do a simple sweep net.” At the far end of the prairie, the second group of students uses the pink antifreeze solution to refill ground traps. “Ground insects walk across the pitfall trap, fall into the coolant and can’t get out,” says Lane Myers, a senior biology major who hopes to become a conservation biologist or game warden after finishing his degree. “This is really valuable for what I want to do.”

Fall 2016 Featured School of Health Sciences

Schooler named Dean of Health Sciences

In June, Dr. Richard Schooler was announced as the university’s new dean of the School of Health Sciences.

Schooler will oversee the school – which includes nursing, radiology, respiratory care, dental hygiene and the EMT and paramedic programs – at a pivotal time in the Joplin area’s status as a health-care hub.

“Having been involved in the medical community for more than 30 years and on the business side for the last 12 years has given me a unique perspective on the needs and challenges that lie ahead,” said Schooler.

“With Kansas City University’s new medical school coming to Joplin and the two great health systems already here, there’s a huge opportunity to take that step to the next level. Education has to be the foundation, and Missouri Southern is in position to be the driver for that.”

From 1985-2004, Schooler practiced as an OB/GYN physician in Joplin before becoming medical director and director of medical education for Freeman . In 2006, he was named the hospital’s chief medical officer, and in 2013 the executive vice president and chief operating officer. He retired from that position earlier this spring.

Fall 2016 School of Health Sciences