For high school students Josafena Hawkins, Victor Rosales and Mackenzie Wilson, Monday offered a crash course in basic medical skills.

The teenagers spent part of the morning learning to intubate a mannequin while second-year medical student Thuc-Nigh Truong looked on, correcting mistakes or answering questions. The students practiced their skills after Truong moved on to another table, where a second group of students was performing the same procedure.

The three experienced life as a medical student during Operation Orange, a one-day medical camp for students in grades nine through 12. The Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences runs the program, which encourages high school students to consider medical careers.

Hawkins, a sophomore from Mason, said she was enjoying her first taste of medical school.

“It’s like, awesome,” she said. “You’re learning a whole bunch of stuff, and you’re just getting a whole bunch of experience before you get to do it.”

Rosales, a sophomore at Lexington High School, described the camp as “a lot of fun.” He added that he was not planning to study medicine after high school, but he thought everyone should learn the basics of health care.

“I do think that the medical field is required, because life is a weird place,” he said. “So you might want to learn to take care of yourself.”

Medical demonstrations

East Central University hosted the summer camp, which gave participants chance to meet OSU medical students, ask questions and participate in various demonstrations. The demonstrations allowed students to perform basic tasks, such as intubation or chest compressions.

In one room at the Chickasaw Business and Conference Center, medical students Mason Two Crow and Jordan Jackson showed students how to perform chest compressions — applying pressure to a patient’s chest to help blood flow through the heart in an emergency.

The teenagers in the chest compression group sat on the floor next to rows of half-sized mannequins. A full-sized mannequin lay on a stretcher on the far side of the room.

Jackson demonstrated chest compressions on a half-sized mannequin while Two Crow explained the procedure to the students. Two Crow then turned on a boom box, and the disco song “Stayin’ Alive” blared from the speakers as the students worked on their mannequins.

Two Crow walked between the rows of students, offering praise and advice as he moved to the beat of the song.

“There you go. You’re doing great,” he told one student.

Next, the students split up into two smaller groups. One group practiced chest compressions on the full-sized mannequin, while the other group went back to work on the half-size mannequins.

After the session ended, the teenagers left for another station and another group of high school students took their place.

High school junior Zackary Farnell, who was taking a lunch break before the afternoon began, said he would recommend Operation Orange to other students who want to learn more about medical school.

“I think it’s a good experience, and I learned a lot,” he said.

Eric Swanson is the City Hall and general assignment reporter for The Ada News. He spent 15 years working at the Dodge City Daily Globe in Dodge City, Kansas, before joining The Ada News’ staff in 2012.