Bosque School's MRC Program: Serving the School, the Community, and the State of New Mexico

Justine Gutierrez, RN; Madison Dressler - Bosque School alum, former health assistant, and former MRC co-president
Sixteen years ago, three students, with the guidance of Bosque School teacher Dan Shaw, created a program that would become an impressive signature program in the Bosque School curriculum. Ivan Lawit ‘09, Thomas Cummins ‘08, and Chris Quinn-Vawter ’08 dreamt of a career in medicine and had a great passion for helping their community. They banded together to write a proposal for a program for Bosque School students to become licensed as first responders and provide care for not only their school community but the entire state. With Mr. Shaw’s help, they applied for and were awarded a $10,000 grant that paved the way for the Bosque School Medical Reserve Corps Emergency Response Team.

The group comprises incoming student recruits, licensed student first responders, co-director Amy Dalness, co-director Dan Shaw, and Bosque School’s nurse, Justine Gutierrez. Students meet weekly to further their education and to practice skills and scenarios. They also participate in multiple community events at the city, state, and national levels. 

Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “How do they do it? How does it work?” The short answer is that it’s a complex team effort. Our program falls under multiple jurisdictions. We are a Bosque School organization and a direct branch of the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) national program. All of our members complete the first responder program at Central New Mexico Community College. We also follow the direction and scope of practice of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the New Mexico State Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Bureau, the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), and the New Mexico Department of Health. 

Most of our members also become licensed as emergency first responders (EMRs) by the New Mexico State EMS Bureau and the National Registry of EMTs after completing the necessary training. Dr. Drew Harrol and Dr. Nathaniel Link, who are both medical directors from UNM, directly oversee our group. They provide us with protocols, vital education, quality insurance/quality assurance, and of course, medical direction when needed. 

While nearly every Bosque School student in 10th grade or higher has the opportunity to join the MRC/ERT program, this is a huge responsibility. Our responders are trusted and trained to administer albuterol to patients experiencing asthma attacks, splint fractured forearms, assess for concussions, and complete legal documentation such as charting. Our responders are not only liable and held responsible on campus but also at our community events and in their everyday life. 

Recruits go through a year-long training process. After they join the program, they begin to learn the basics of medicine, safety, patient care, and what it takes to be a first responder. Our recruits spend about six months completing training and education on campus during weekly meetings. During this time, they take advantage of the optional additional experience opportunities we offer, such as volunteering for vaccine clinics and helping out in the health office.

In May, Bosque School students participate in a three-week immersive course. During this period, our recruits will take CNM’s emergency medical responder course, also known as the EMR or first responder course. This provides the bulk of their training as we have a nationally and state-registered instructor. This is virtually the same EMR program offered to the public, the only difference is that this class is condensed to 12 rigorous days. They learn everything from taking vitals to spinal immobilization, anatomy to medication interactions, supraglottic airway assistance, to how to deliver a baby.

After passing their lab and theory courses, the recruits are now prepared to take the EMR national registry exam and certify as first responders. At this point, they are no longer recruits. They are our next generation of MRC/ERT responders!