In the middle of the Surgical Skills Simulation and Education Center, students are trying to walk along a line of tape while wearing “beer goggles” designed to simulate the perception shifts caused by alcohol. Others practice CPR chest compressions while Chris Foran, MD, a resident in general surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, guides a group through packing a wound in an artificial leg with gauze. General surgery chief resident Saskya Byerly, MD, chats easily with the students as she coaches them on applying tourniquets properly.

It’s all part of a workshop that Damon Clark, MD, assistant professor of clinical surgery, has set up with Foran and Soledad Enrichment Action (SEA), a nonprofit organization that provides intervention and education for young people who are at risk for gang involvement.

A high school student learns how to apply gauze to a wound during a simulation, held Sept. 25 at Keck Medical Center of USC. (Photo/Ricardo Carrasco III)

“We try to teach them about violence and how to avoid it, show them what trauma really is and then we try to give them higher educational goals,” Clark said.

The afternoon was an intense one: The SEA students started with a presentation on the cost —human and financial — of gun violence. They then toured the ICU and the fresh-tissue dissection lab for a look at what the caregivers in the trauma division see on a daily basis, as well as a primer on how to help others during a medical emergency.

The day ended with another perspective shift as Foran gave a presentation on potential medical careers so the students could see that they could get good-paying jobs whether they had a high school diploma, vocational training or a degree.

“A lot of these kids started out not expecting to finish high school,” Clark said. “Now they see they have options.”

— Lex Davis