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planEngaging Activities

Use engaging activities to bridge theory and practice.

Student must be able to use vocabulary, apply rules, and cite principles during scenarios, discussions, and games. Build these elements into the activities:

Look for real-world experiences that bridge theory and practice.

Example: Try the Bag Valve Mask Apneic Patient Skill Station.

try itTry It! Adapt an Activity
Try the four games and use the worksheet to evaluate each.
"Just a Band-Aid" Roleplay, Mefical Infographic Discussion, Firehouse Football, and Online Exploration. Download the directions (WORD).

Let's focus on some specific types of activities that will engage your learners and facilitate the development of specific skills.


Participants will be able to:
• Create and integrate simulations into the learning environment.

Situated learning places students as close as possible to a real-world situation. When possible, real contexts, roles, and tools are used. When a student connects what is learned to an actual situation, the translation of content becomes clear. The closer to real-life, the more effective:

Key to success


Scenarios are descriptions of situations that provide a context for discussion or debate. They help students visualize a series of actions and can be used to test out ideas and strategies. Unfortunately, they can also be overly simplistic leading to inappropriate generalizations.

Example: Students are presented with information necessary to take on a role or solve a problem. For instance, Susan observes BLANK. She does BLANK because …. Do you agree or disagree with her reasoning? Why?

Building Scenarios. First, design a set of circumstances including characters, setting, and action/events. Then, ask students to do one of the following:

Example: Students are given instrument readouts and patient information. Students must identify the problem.

Example: Visit Survival Scenario Exercise, a group dynamics team building exercise, and examine the various scenarios that are included.

Rather than simply providing text-based scenarios, begin with images, audio, or video.

Example: Incorporate short videos with background information for the scenario such as Recognizing Sports Concussions: Keeping Youth Athletes Safe along with an article on health reporting.

Case Studies

Case Studies are in-depth examinations of specific situations. The case study approach involves students in analyzing real or fictional cases in detail. While they are useful in exploring complex situations, they can be time-consuming to prepare and may not meet the spectrum of needs. A great way to bridge theory and practice, case studies are a practical approach to help students practice course content. You're also able to see how learners apply information and demonstrate understandings in authentic situations. However ask yourself whether a case study is needed or if a scenario work as well.

Building Case Studies. Present a specific situation or set of facts. Ask students to analyze the case:

Example: Rebecca is BLANK age, with a BLANK history, in a BLANK situation. How could you treat her?


Dilemmas are situations where multiple options are provided, but none are acceptable. For instance, a dilemma may address two moral principles that required different courses of action. When students are asked to determine and justify a course of action, they learn to act on principles of justice and fairness rather than on self-interests or social norms. Students need to be aware that there may be many conflicting opinions. This approach can be overwhelming for some students, however it is effective and essential at addressing the core issues.

Example: This happened, but this happened. I’m supposed to BLANK. What should I do?


Simulations involve people playing roles with real-world equipment. Use this approach to introduce a learning outcome, review materials, or provide a culminating experience. The scenario can be stopped to point out key ideas.

Simulations help students apply their skills to "real life" situations by providing an environment to manipulate variables, examine relationships, and make decisions. This type of assignment is generally used after initial instruction as part of application, review, or remediation. In most cases, simulations should be used as a culminating activity after students have basic skills in the concepts being addressed in the software. Otherwise it is difficult for them to make informed decisions during the program. Without background skills, the simulation may become an unproductive game rather than a meaningful learning experience.

Types of Simulations. There are many types of simulations.

Building simulation. Invent roles (i.e., patient, responding crew, bystanders, and facilitator. Provide cards for each role. Incorporate at least one of the following:

Make it Real


Role-Playing allow students to practice what is being taught in a controlled setting. Participants in role playing assignments adopt and act out the role of characters in particular situations. They may take on the personalities, motivation, backgrounds, mannerisms, and behaviors of people different from themselves. Set the stage and provide handouts or sheets with key information. Debrief at the end to reinforce learning objectives. (NAEMS, 2006)

try itTry It: I'm Fine. Just Give me a Band-Aid Role-play
Step 1:
  Divide the group in half. Move to opposite sides of the room.
Step 2:   Members of Group A will take on the role of a reluctant patient and brainstorm a set of provocative statements, questions, or demands.
Example: “I’m late for a meeting and I don’t have time for this.”
Step 3:   Members of Group B will take on the role of EMTs and brainstorm effective statements to defuse the situation and empathic reactions to provocative statements.
Example: “Sir, I’m sorry you feel that way. We can save time by….”
Step 4:   Identify a member of the opposite team and conduct a one-on-one conversation between the patient and the EMT. A member of Group A will initiate the angry conversation by asking a question or making a demand. The person from Group B will respond in a calm and empathetic fashion to defuse the hostility. After one minute, the pairs will shift.
Step 5:   After all Group A members have interacted with Group B members, take a couple minutes to create a character and switch roles. Conduct another set of rounds.
Step 6:   Debrief.
What are techniques and statements that worked effectively to defuse or calm the patient?
What are examples of empathic, apologetic, reassuring, and limit-setting statements?
What is a piece of advice you’d give a new EMT?
Step 7:   Discuss the use of role-playing as a teaching tool and design your own assignment.
Step 8:
If you have time, try a round focusing on your own role-playing assignment.

try itTry It: Simulations
Compare scenarios, case studies, dilemmas, simulations, and role
playing activities. How are they alike and different? Select and discuss one of these techniques and how you use it.



Participants will be able to:
• Create and integrate discussions into the learning environment.

Discussions are a way for students to share their understanding of course content.

Actively engage learners by reaching outside the required textbook readings and standard course content. Bring in multiple perspectives, authentic resources, and real-world problems. Also, think about multiple channels of communication. 

Students might be asked to

Create a clear, concise prompt that will initiate discussion. The following discussion starters are simple examples to help you generate ideas.

Start with a(n)...

Action. Use verbs to bring a posting alive. Start with an event, disaster, or other activity. Then ask a question.

Example. Compare the number of injuries and/or deaths to similar disasters. How are they alike and different? Speculate on why.

Announcement. Make an announcement or statement. Use this to grab interest.

Example. Deaths due to BLANK are on the rise. Why?

Challenge. Challenge participants with a bold statement that might cause controversy such as one side of an argument or an opinion. Look for the controversy.

Example. State your perspective and support it with evidence.

Choice. Present options or choices then ask a question such as Which do you like best? Why?

Current Event. Present a news item or important local or global event.

Example. Create a problem based on a current event or local news

Definition. Provide a word and/or definition. Or, just a word and ask for a definition, illustration or example. Be sure to cite the source. Ask a question that requires a definition.

Emotion or Feeling. Talk about a feeling or emotion related to a particular situatio.

Example. How do you react in stressful situations? Why? What can you do to handle stress?

Experience. Focus on personal or professional experiences and examples. Connect it to the discussion or topic. If possible, incorporate visuals such as photographs.

Opinion. Start with an opinion and take a stand.

Quote. Start with a quote. The quote could be from a famous person, book, news article, or interview. Be sure to use quotation marks and credit the source. 

Question. Focus on questions about a topic (i.e., main idea, connection to other learning), book or movie (i.e., character, plot, setting), or problem.

Riddle or Puzzle. Pose a riddle or puzzle, then provide a reading to help solve the problem. Or, get students involved with writing their own riddles or creating puzzles.

Scenario. Ask readers to imagine a situation. Consider starting with dialog or conversation.

Statistic. How many or how much? Present a shocking statistic or one that people might question. Consider presenting this information in the form of a chart or graphic. Ask students to analyze this data.

Surprise. Begin with a shocking or amazing piece of information.

Encourage Probing Questions

Students may need help generating quality questions for their peers. Teach students to ask probing questions.

The following list can help you and your students extend the conversation through questioning:

try itTry It: Infographic Discussions
Use an infographic as the basis of discussion.
Human Subway - Is this graphic correct? Trace each system. Is anything missing?  What other analogies could you use to visualize the human body systems?
Male Death - Categorize the data. Which are you most likely to encounter as an EMT?
Our Favorite Drugs - What drugs are you likely to encounter as an EMT?
Personal Injury in the Wild - What type of wild injury are you most likely to encounter as an EMT?
PTSD - What are implications for EMTs?
Killer Bees v Killer Cheese – Can you think of other data that could be included?
Social Media and Emergency Response - Are you a social media user? How do these communication systems merge with the systems already in place for emergency response?
Emergency Communication - Are you prepared for a disaster? What other communication systems should be considered as part of this infographic?
In the Event of Zombie Attack - Could you create an infographic focusing on a real-attack? How would it be like and unlike this infographic?

try itTry It: Discussions
Explore the ideas related to discussions. Select one idea and design a class discussion.



Participants will be able to:
• Create and integrate games into the learning environment.

Games are an effective way to review course content and apply skills to new situations.

Games involve overcoming obstacles to solve a problem, accomplish a goal or complete a task.

When designing a game, you simply need four elements:

Categories of Games

Game Shows


Card Games

Question cards. Pick a card and match to the case, person, problem.

Patient cards. Pick a patient (i.e., headshot with description) and make a decision.

Example. Read the card: Your patient converses with you and answers most questions appropriately but is unsure of where she is or who you are. Her mental status is best described as… Place the card in the correct category: Unresponsive, Responsive to painful stimuli, Responsive to verbal stimuli, Alert

Review cards. One table creates questions for another table. The instructor should review cards before trading with another table.

Example. Make words by matching common prefixes or suffixes with the rest of the word. This is a great game to play before class. Place words on tables before class.

Dice Games

People like to roll dice. Roll the dice to

Example. If you roll a BLANK, then you must BLANK

Board Games

Trivia Pursuit

Matrix Games

Hands-on Games

Other Games


Scavenger Hunt

try itTry It: Firehouse Football
Mission. Answer questions correctly to score points.
Step 1:      Layout the football field and place the ball on the 50-yard line.
Step 2:      Divide the group into 2 teams and name a referee (one the ref can be on a team). The oldest player goes first.
Step 3:      The first team picks a card and the referee reads the question and marks the yardage based on the difficulty of the question. Use a post-it to mark first downs.
Easy Question: 5 yards if correct, miss it and no gain
Medium Question: 10 yards if correct, miss it and no gain
Difficult Question: 25 yards (but if you miss it, there's an interception)
Step 4:      You get four downs to make 10 yards. If you don’t make it, the other team takes over. If you make it, you keep going until you score or lose the ball.
Step 5:      After a touchdown, the other team takes possession on the 50-yard line.
Step 6:      In a regular classroom, play 4-twelve minute quarters.
Step 7:      Brainstorm modifications to the rules.
Step 8:      Discuss whether this is an effective review tool or if the game distracts from learning. Talk about ways the game could be changed to increase learning.
Print out firehouse football cards and answer sheet.

Courtesy of Wikimedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AmFBfield.svgCourtesy of Wikimedia Commons

try itTry It: Games
Brainstorm game formats that could be adapted for use in your classroom.



Participants will be able to:
• Create and integrate interactives into the learning environment.

Increasingly, courses are using online games and simulations.

Interactive Games and Simulations

Skills Practice

Models and Animations

Reference Sources

Timers and Grouping Tools

Looking for more? Explore the Games & Simulations for Healthcare database.


try itTry It: Interactives
Mission. Work through the scenario to review procedures
Step 1: Try the EMT Basic Refresher Scenarios. Do they do an effective job simulating real-world encounters?
Step 2: Complete the interactive as a small group.
Step 3: Discuss the pros and cons of using web-based simulations.
Step 4: Explore http://bodybrowser.googlelabs.com/
Step 5: Discuss ways that this tool could be used in your classroom.
Step 6: Discuss the pros and cons of using web-based tools in the classroom or as part of a homework assignment.

try itTry It: Interactives
Evaluate three of the interactives above and share your findings.

Final Assessment. Think about ways to assess “participation.”

Seven Keys to Success

Participants will be able to:
• Describe and apply ideas for successful instructional development.

listenUse the following ideas to guide your work:

  1. Start small.
  2. Chunk content and match activities.
  3. Adapt what you already do.
  4. Replace activities that aren't effective, efficient, and appealing.
  5. Take risks and expect some problems.
  6. Learn from failures.
  7. Share your successes.

try itTry It: Take Action
Create a plan.
Share THREE ideas you'll try.


Times change,... but quality skill sets transfer to any situation.


Prepare students for real-world disasters... through meaningful learning experiences.

Flu 1918carry patient

Balance theory and practice... by combining activities that stress cognitive, afffective, and psychomotor domains.


For great historical photos, search the Library of Congress photo collection with words like "ambulance," "red cross," or "emergency services."

For great current photos, go to Wikimedia Commons and search for "emt" or "ems".

Some standards and examples excerpt from the National Guidelines for Educating EMS Instructors (2002) from NHTSA.
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