Mobile Education Lab is State of the Art

‘iStan’ at Miami Valley Hospital helps first responders with training

By Ken Mosier, For Health Care Today, Updated 10:26 AM Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The victim lies on the concrete with a gunshot wound in the upper right chest area. The victim is quiet but his eyes blink as you walk past.

EMTs and firefighters arrive and begin work to ready the patient for transport to a hospital.

Not a scene from a shady part of town. The concrete is actually the floor of the Headquarters building of the Middletown Fire Department. The “victim” is a very sophisticated mannequin (called iStan) used in training by the Mobile Education Laboratory from Miami Valley Hospital.

“(iStan) is wireless. We’ve got the simulation programmed into the computer and then we can change stuff on the fly if we need to,” said Michael Callihan, RN, EMT-P and interim EMS coordinator for the hospital. “We can make him progress and get better or worse depending on the treatment.

“We can make him bleed — even have arterial blood spurting,” he continued. “Once they get it occluded the computer senses that and shuts off the pump.”

“This thing, it throws up and the pupils dilate and it will talk to you. It’s really an amazing pieced of equipment,” said Mary Cure, RN, Flight Nurse for CareFlight who was assisting with the training. “It’s got all the bodily functions of a human being. The mannequins (the trainees) are used to working with don’t really do anything.
“This is not exactly like the real thing but it is as close as we can get to the real world.”

“I am kind of the technical guy that does all this,” said Dan Nolan of Miami Valley. “If they give him a medication, we program it into the computer and he actually responds to the medication. I control all the vitals from this computer.”

All training is digitally recorded with several cameras mounted throughout the vehicle.

“When they are done, we can burn them a copy and give it to them for additional training,” Nolan said.

MEL is built on the chassis of a large motor home. It is divided into two basic sections. One is a realistic ambulance setting where those undergoing training will load the ‘victim’ and continue care for the run to the hospital.

“Most of the same equipment as on a life squad and we kind of adapt it to whatever department we are working with that day so we will use whatever equipment they are using.”

The other section is designed as an operating room. For the training in Middletown, the table was filled with an assortment of heads with lungs attached.

“Today, we are doing an airway station up here,” Callihan said. “We will put them in a group and half the guys will be in the back with a scenario while another group will be up here practicing skills like intubation on a pediatric patient and then doing an intubation on the adult heads. They will actually be doing a nasal intubation as well.”

He indicated the several types of rescue airways on the table.

“We have several that we will use just to show them the things that are around. Then they get to practice with their own types of airways.”

In the rear of the motor home, trainees have the patient stabilized and have performed a tracheotomy. The ambulance is “en route” and the team provides a patient summary as they near the end of their journey.

MEL started rolling in February and hopes to provide training free of charge to about 100 groups of emergency medical personnel around the area. Callihan said that the unit was in Middletown for three days so that each of the three shifts could receive the training. In smaller departments, one day might suffice.

The service has been well received.

“Really, it’s priceless,” said Middletown Deputy Chief Tom Snively. “To have professionals that do this every day and this type of equipment — it is expensive and something that we, as a department, we couldn’t normally put something like this together on our own.

“It is a huge benefit that we can have them come in and really there is no cost to it other than the time. Really, it is priceless to have them come and do this and share their expertise with us.”

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