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Student suffers blown ear drum from blast set by instructor

Published On: Apr 21 2014 09:29:44 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 22 2014 11:14:03 AM CDT
REDDING, Calif. -

A Shasta College student is speaking out after a classroom-teaching tactic blew out her eardrum. It happened during an EMT training class on the campus April 3.

"I heard this huge blast out of the side of my head. And I felt the blast and the change of pressure in my head. And I literally felt it hit my chest. It was so scary," Heather Chinn recalled.

Chinn can no longer hear out of her right ear and she has just 65 percent of hearing in what she now calls her “good” ear.

“If you can imagine in the movies, it going silent. It just went silent," Chinn explained, reliving the moment that altered her life.

“If you can imagine in the movies, it going silent. It just went silent."

The blast that erupted inside the room filled with about 45 students was meant to jolt them.

"This was a test for us. A test that we weren't expecting," Chinn said.

A Shasta College instructor had intentionally detonated the device, to rattle the nerves of the EMT’s in training during an active shooter mock scenario.

"It was just chaos. I was still on my hands and knees just covering my head," Chinn recalled the moments after the blast.

"Still, even though I was hurt, my biggest fear was not being able to complete this class," Chinn said.

Chinn said she began crawling away from her desk. Less than ten feet from where the boom originated, Chinn said she saw the device.

"It's a CO2 grenade," Chinn explained.

She tried to push through the pain, finish the drill and complete the class but she couldn’t shrug off the now strengthening sensation in her inner ear.

"It was like I got shot in the ear. I can't explain it. It was the sharpest, worst pain I'd ever felt just coming out of my head,” Chinn described.

“I put my gloved finger in my ear and pulled out blood, and that's never a good sign," Chinn explained.

The blood trickling from her ear showed just how bad the situation truly was.

"To this day, I haven't heard anything since the blast. And every day I wake up, I just hope to hear something,” Chinn said, pleading through tears.

"To this day, I haven't heard anything since the blast. And every day I wake up, I just hope to hear something,” Chinn said, pleading through tears.

Doctors have since told Chinn she no longer has hearing in her right ear. Because of that, she won’t be able to live out her dream of being a flight medic.

“But the fact that I can't hear heart sounds, I can't hear lung sounds, that doesn't make for a great EMT,” explained Chinn.

Not only that, the loss of her hearing has forcibly changed her as a parent to her little girl.

"I took my hearing for granted. It's one thing that I never thought could happen to me. And I have an 8-year-old daughter who loves to sing and dance. And the worst part of all of this was explaining it to her. How do you explain to your 8-year-old daughter that mommy can't hear you," Chinn said, tears rushing down her face.

Chinn said other students who were in the class have told her they still hear ringing in their ears from the blast which took place more than two weeks ago.

Administrators for Shasta College declined to comment when questioned about how and why this incident happened at the hands of one of their instructors.