By Tara Figurski
From an asthma attack to internal bleeding, a life-like simulator is allowing Truro Township firefighters to get experience at saving lives and handling trauma.
Recently the firefighters spent a week with the patient simulator, Laerdal SimMan, who was on loan from Clinton Township. Firefighters Dave Lovejoy and Cody Adams and medical student Ben May participated in two scenarios.
Firefighters on all three shifts and all of the township’s part-time firefighters also participated in the training.
Lt. Chuck Brooks said some of the firefighters were apprehensive about working with the rescue dummy because they didn’t want to make a mistake in front of their peers.
“When you talk about change, they are hesitant,” Brooks said. “After the first couple of times they really got into it.”
The rescue dummy has a pulse and a casual observer can see its chest rise and fall. The dummy is electronically attached to a computer that reacts to the treatment offered by the firefighters.
“This is the way that training is going,” said Brooks. “We can review runs that have already been performed and try some different continuing education and recertification.”
Brooks said the firefighter in charge of operating the simulator can choose from a variety of medical or trauma related scenarios from a non-breathing patient to a patient who is bleeding internally.
By working the rescue dummy, the firefighters also can dispense medication. One firefighter will draw the medication and present it to his fellow responders to confirm the right amount of medication has been dispensed. Medication is distributed based on weight of the patient.
“Everyone gets to work together,” Brooks said.
While grateful to borrow the SimMan from Clinton Township, Truro Township would like to have its own. The Metropolitan Emergency Consortium, of which Truro is a member, applied for a grant to purchase a SimMan but was unsuccessful in obtaining the grant.
Brooks said MECC will apply for another grant, but Truro officials are also talking with Violet Township about sharing the cost of the $50,000 rescue dummy. He said if a business or resident is willing to donate funding for the rescue dummy, Truro Township doesn’t need the Taj Mahal of rescue dummies.
Truro Fire Chief Steve Hein said the training is different than training he participated in as a paramedic. He said the training is more realistic.
“It’s a lot better/safer to train with actual drugs you use so the medics become more experienced in their drug calculations when they administer the drug,” Brooks said.
During the training session, paramedic Ken Rundell operated the computer attached to the SimMan, allowing the dummy to respond the medical treatment being offered by the paramedics. He said the training builds muscle memory for the firefighters.
“This is a good learning tool for me,” Rundell said. “I can understand what the body is doing rather than making educated guesses.”
Rundell stressed the hands-on aspect of the training versus book learning. Paramedics learn where they should be standing or how much room they might have in the ambulance for a particular incident. He likes the team building aspect.