Thanks to Internships, Two Students Learn to Teach Others

Story and photos by Samuel Lopez, staff writer
A participant practices on a training dummy while Emme Tissue instructs

Emme Tissue (left) instructs a participant on the technique for putting pressure on a packed wound.

With the school year nearly over, classes are the last thing that many students want to think about—but not at NCI at Frederick and the Frederick National Laboratory. Here, Werner H. Kirsten (WHK) student interns Emme Tissue and Esteban Garcia aren’t just contemplating class, they’re teaching them.

On May 23, now recognized as National Stop the Bleed Day, the two high school seniors led a Stop the Bleed training course for nearly a dozen employees at the Frederick National Laboratory’s Vaccine Pilot Plant. It was Tissue and Garcia’s third time teaching the course, and their last as WHK students. They completed their internships with the Occupational Health Services clinic at the end of the day.

As the hour-long course unfolded, Tissue and Garcia displayed the knowledge and confidence they gained from their WHK internships, authoritatively instructing participants to recognize life-threatening bleeding, pack wounds, and administer tourniquets to save lives. The duo’s mentor, Sarah Hooper, Occupational Health Services manager, and Ron Kunz, emergency manager, facilitated the course but let Tissue and Garcia take charge.

“They’ve got this memorized,” Kunz said with a grin.

For his part, Garcia never imagined that he would be teaching employees during his internship.

“I definitely thought I would always be the student,” he said. “I think I’ve really grown since we first arrived [in] summer of last year, and it’s been a great opportunity to spread knowledge to the public, particularly about this class.”

Tissue saw similar growth in herself.

“When I came into this internship, I was super-shy. I didn’t want to answer the phones, I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I just wanted to stay in the corner on my computer,” she said. “[Now] I get to go out and teach people about something that I think is a great cause and something I’m really passionate about.”

After completing the course, Tissue and Garcia presented certificates to the participants. Many in the class said they felt informed and intrigued by what they learned.

“The fact that you can use tourniquets now and not lose a limb is very surprising because that goes against what we were taught for the last umpteen years,” said Edward Taylor, protective services officer I, adding that it was “good to get new knowledge.”

Taylor also said that he wasn’t surprised to see interns teaching the course.

“You have to allow everyone a chance to teach and get up in front of people,” he explained.

Tissue and Garcia will return to NCI at Frederick in June for a summer internship. They plan to teach a few more classes, then pass their knowledge to the clinic’s incoming interns.

In the fall, Tissue will attend Skidmore College to pursue a nonmedical degree. Garcia will attend Johns Hopkins University and hopes to continue interning at NCI at Frederick during winter and summer breaks.

“I’m just really excited for the future that lies ahead here,” he said.

Although Tissue is moving into a different field, she too believes her internship was an enjoyable and worthwhile experience.

“It just shows that this internship and the Stop the Bleed class and everything like that apply to everyone,” she said. “You don’t have to be interested in science or medicine—it’s something everyone should know.”

Esteban Garcia (left) allows fellow intern Luke Forsberg to practice applying a tourniquet on him. Two members of the class work together to practice with tourniquets.