High school students interested in a medical career got to participate in an e-coli outbreak simulation.
The kids arrived at Kern Public Health for what they thought was an educational tour, but they were greeted with an announcement of a mock emergency.
They broke into strike teams then assessed patients like in real hospital settings.
Like a mystery, they had to string together symptoms and clues to locate the source of the outbreak.
“This is what public health does on a daily basis,” said Public Health director Matt Constantine. “Instead of sitting behind a desk or learning about what we do on paperwork, we actually put them in the situation.”
The students also did mock health inspections of restaurants and other facilities.
“It is really what we do when there’s a disease outbreak,” Constantine said. “We interview those that are ill, and we try to trace back what they were exposed to, including their most recent meals. We need to act quickly to try to prevent that disease from being transmitted throughout the community.”
Finally, the students held a mock press conference where KGET and fellow members of the media grilled them about their findings.
“We’re always surprised by the end of the afternoon how well they have summarized the outbreak and actually presenting it to the public and the media at large,” Constantine said.
The experience sparked interest in public health careers and helped train future leaders in the field.