E.M.T. Rummy

by James Frazee

James is a year-round San Diego Lifeguard. San Diego Lifeguards not only perform surf rescue, but also provide law enforcement and marine-fire-fighting functions as the Harbor Patrol on Mission Bay. San Diego Lifeguards also effect technical cliff rescue, and perform inland swift water or flood rescue. James is a member of the Dive Team, which is responsible for underwater search and recovery operations, and is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). James is applying the knowledge and experience gained through the Masters Degree in the Educational Technology program to the design of interactive computer-based training for the San Diego Lifeguards and other public safety services.

Instructional Objective The Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) will be able to group proper patient treatments and equipment needed to effect the treatment, with the corresponding medical chief complaints.

Based on the patient's chief medical complaint, the EMT will be able to recall proper patient treatment and equipment related to that treatment, as determined by current San Diego County Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Treatment Guidelines.

Learners/Context The learners are EMT's currently certified in San Diego County. They are burdened with continually memorizing EMS treatment protocols which may change every 6 months.

Rationale It is critical that EMT's have treatment protocols committed firmly to memory. An EMT will perform with more control and self-confidence in an actual emergency when the tedious details of EMS treatment algorithms are so well memorized that they are second nature.

A card game is well suited to the working conditions of an EMT. Emergency Medical Technicians experience a lot of "down time", this is time when they are not responding to an emergency. Having a game to play will help break up this "down time." A card game is practical for EMT's, because of its portability and ability to be played in the field.

Rules The game is played in the following manner:

1. 2 to 4 people may play.

2. The dealer deals each player 7 cards. The top card of the deck is then turned over and placed beside the remaining cards.

3. Players try to group Skills and Equipment cards together with appropriate Chief Complaint cards. For example, an "Ensure Airway" Skills card and "Stiff Neck Collar" and "Backboard" Equipment cards can be grouped with an "Unconscious Head Injury" Chief Complaint card because they are part of the appropriate treatment and equipment as set forth by San Diego County EMS.

4. Play begins with the player seated to the left of the dealer and proceeds clockwise. Each player must maintain at least 7 cards in their hand. They may choose one replacement card at a time from either the face up or face down piles of cards.

5. Players earn points by laying appropriately grouped cards down in front of them. The cards in each group are laid down face up. Each group contains 1 Chief Complaint card and a minimum of 2 other cards. A player may also add cards to his own or other player's groups.

6. Challenges: If the treatment rendered or equipment used are wrong, the first person to correctly challenge and state the proper skill and equipment will receive double the point value of the card or cards being laid down. The player who incorrectly stated the skill or equipment has the point value he had stood to gain subtracted from his score. Challenges are decided by county protocols. An unsuccessful challenger loses double the value of the cards.

7. A player who is able to lay down all 7 cards in a single group receives a total of 50 points. Successful challenges are worth 100 points in this case.

8. The play continues until one of the players runs out of cards. The winner is the first player to reach 200 points.

9. It may be necessary to refer to current San Diego County EMS Emergency Medical Technician Treatment Guidelines.

Card Design

Each card will be either a wild card, the patient's medical chief complaint, a life support skill, or a piece of first aid equipment. The point value assigned to each card is based on the Deck Design and field relevance. The deck is designed so that there is more Equipment cards than Skills cards. This is done so that the game will move quickly and be playable in a short time span. Focus is on lower level learning and memorization of equipment related to appropriate treatments. The Chief Complaint cards are worth the lowest point value because in the field the medical chief complaint is much more obvious than the treatment or the equipment that is necessitated by that treatment. For example, if the player is able to match a "Cardiac Arrest" Chief Complaint card with a "Look, Listen, & Feel (3-5) seconds" Skills card and a "Oropharyngeal Airway" Equipment card they may lay these cards down. Since these cards follow the EMS Protocols, the player will receive eight points.

Deck Design

There are 52 cards in this deck:

The reason for choosing 52 as the number of cards in the deck is because people expect it in traditional types of cards games; i.e. Rummy. The names of the three categories are printed along the outside edge to assist in quick card identification with the point values represented in diagonal corners of each card. The Jokers, not pictured, have the Joker face in the middle of the card and the word Joker in text below the graphic. The Skills and Chief Complaint cards have text, identifying the treatment or medical chief complaint in the center of the card. A scanned-in photo or diagram, and the name of the piece of equipment clearly identifies the Equipment cards, and The EMT Star of Life emblem is found on the back the entire deck of cards.

Design Process

The need for a game of this type is evident to anyone who must frequently requalify in certain skills or procedures in order to retain employment. In the case of the EMT, not only will not knowing therequisite knowledge get you terminated, it may also cost someone their life. Therefore, I see this card game as a fun and low-stress way to learn the skills and equipment related to treating a particular medical chief complaint as set forth in current EMS Guidelines.