SimMan raises the bar on medical training

SimMan raises the bar on medical training

The 89th Regional Readiness Command, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, has received a new addition to its ranks. He’s called “SimMan.” And, while he doesn’t sport a cape and red tights, he is expected to bring his own brand of superhuman powers to raising the bar on 91W medical training. 91W Healthcare Specialist is the new military occupation specialty that replaces the 91B Combat Medic and 91C Licensed Practical Nurse or Vocational Nurse MOSs.

SimMan, which cost approximately $30,000, was developed by Laerdal Medical Corporation especially for 91W training. He can breathe, and has a pulse and blood pressure. In addition, SimMan also can be programmed to display different symptoms that 91W trainees can react to.

Effective October 2001, the Department of Combat Medic Training 91W course length was changed from 10 to 16 weeks so that students could develop advanced skills in combat medic and emergency medical techniques.

“Now, 91Ws are Emergency Medical Technician qualified and are expected to be re-certified according to National Registry standards,” said Lt. Col. Beth Martinez, a sustainment training coordinator for the 91W transition. “This is consistent with the Army’s plan to convert all current medics to 91W.”

“The Active Army has until 2009, and the Army Reserve components until 2008, to have the process completed. SimMan will help with that transition,” she added.

Because SimMan is computer-based, different scenarios can be programmed into the 91W training.

“The trainers can program different symptoms into SimMan. This in turn creates different reactions by the 91Ws,” said Master Sgt. Steve Wadas, Senior Medical NCO with the 4223rd U.S. Army Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. “Those reactions are automatically logged within the attached computer, and can be printed out at any time for the individual Soldiers to review and evaluate.”

“Gone are the days when we would simulate the appropriate medical procedures. Now, Soldiers have the ability to perform those tasks directly on SimMan,” added Wadas.

If a Soldier does not perform a task properly, the computer automatically will adjust SimMan’s response. If the condition is serious enough, SimMan could even code (stop breathing). The Soldier then would have to react to that situation.

According to Wadas, it is this ability of SimMan to react in a number of ways that is elevating the level of training for 91Ws.

“In a classroom situation, you can’t give a human patient drugs, intubate them or get them to respond to a variety of treatments like you can with SimMan,” said Wadas. “SimMan allows us to have real-life, scenario-based training, which should elevate Soldiers’ medical skills, allowing them to be better prepared for most all types of medical missions.”

“He’s the best EKG simulator I’ve ever seen,” said 2nd Lt. Wesley McCullough, a nurse with the 325th Field Hospital in Independence, Missouri, who recently attended a Train-the-Trainer class. “I know that SimMan was designed specifically for 91W. However, I think he would be a good training tool for other medical professions as well.”

COPYRIGHT 2003 U.S. Army Reserve

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group