By Sgt. Randall P. Carey
Ohio National Guard
COLUMBUS, Ohio (2/18/09) -- A team of Ohio National Guard members, doctors, and researchers at Riverside Methodist Hospital are taking a new approach to training medical personnel responsible for treating casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Dynamics Research Corporation, in conjunction with Riverside and the Ohio National Guard, is currently conducting a research project allowing Ohio Guard medical personnel to train in advanced medical simulation labs in the hospital’s Center for Medical Education + Innovation.
Planning for the project began in February 2008, and the first round of training for Ohio Guard Soldiers and Airmen began in November last year.
Col. William Richter, state air surgeon for the Ohio National Guard Joint Force Headquarters, This describes one of several scenarios offered in training at CME+I for the Airmen waiting to test their skills.
“You’re in the forward aid station. A platoon goes out and they are attacked. Pvt. Johnson is hit by shrapnel under his left arm. They bring him in. Take care of him,” he said.
Sgt. Christopher Thomas, first sergeant of the 285th Area Support Medical Company and Ohio National Guard medical training program manager, is working closely with DRC to develop realistic scenarios similar to what the participants will experience during a combat deployment.
“We’ve developed these scenarios based solely on my experiences in theater, some of the actual trauma scenarios we saw while stationed in Iraq,” Thomas said.
The benefit of the realistic scenarios is augmented greatly by the advanced patient simulators and monitoring equipment available at CME+I.
“They simulate the vital signs and functions of an actual human,” Thomas said. “They breathe, they bleed, they talk. You can check blood pressure. You can check pulses.”
Jim Heberling, a medical simulation technician at CME+I, explained that gas sensors and flow meters in the simulators enable the administering of IVs, the injection of fluids and other tasks not typically able to be performed on less realistic medical training aides.
Heberling said the advanced nature of the simulators provides the medical community with the opportunity of being able to test new equipment without the risk of unforeseen technical deficiencies causing harm to a live patient.
The training is directed and monitored from a control room located in the center of the simulation lab. Technicians can record video of the operations from multiple cameras located throughout the lab. They can also act as the voice of the patient throughout the operation and prompt more than 72,000 physiological responses to occur, based on the performance of the personnel training in the lab.
In addition to the real-time actions available to the technicians, the simulators can be programmed to initiate a physiological response if tasks are not performed in the correct sequence or within a given period of time.
One of the most beneficial tools of the program is the ability to record video of the training. National Guard medical personnel can see and examine what they did right, what they did wrong, and how well their team worked together.
“It’s a great tool for assessing the unit’s collective skills,” said Vinette Langford, a researcher with DRC.
The research project is set to continue in its next phase—supporting Ohio National Guard units in preparation for deployment.
Thomas feels the program is a great developmental step.
“I think this training allows Soldiers and Airmen to physically put their hands on patients,” Thomas said. “And that’s what they need to get used to.