How to buy EMS training tools
By Greg Friese
We perform just like we train. To get the most from training, make sure you have appropriate training tools. Training tools for EMS professionals can include all sorts of manikins, assessment equipment, and patient care equipment. As a trainer, determine the training tools that are needed during the curriculum design and lesson planning process. Instead of waiting until just before the training starts to select equipment, identify training equipment in the lesson planning process to ensure you either have what you need or can modify the lesson plan to what is available.
Most training equipment for practicing patient assessment and treatment can be done with the supplies used for actual patient assessment and treatment. Manikins used to practice patient assessment and care thus become a significant training tool for EMS departments to purchase. Here are the top four things to consider when making a manikin purchase:
1. Identify the training for which the manikin will be used. At its most basic, a manikin can be used for practicing chest compressions and delivering ventilations. If you need to practice insertion of non-visualized airways, lung and epigastric sound auscultation, and removing foreign objects, you will need to purchase a more complex model.
2. Determine the desirable level of realism necessary. Most manikins will make claims about similarity of airway structures or compliance of the chest wall, but some are better than others. If your crews are frequently responding to cardiac arrest calls, they know what a real patient is like and you may only need a simple CPR manikin to verify their competence at chest compressions.
3. Consider maintenance and storage. After making a substantial investment in a manikin, will you have the ability to store it securely and take care of it over time? Some ongoing costs include replacement of lungs, cleaning face pieces, and replacing damaged or missing parts.
4. Understand complexity of operation. High fidelity patient simulators — fancy manikins that can perform realistic human functions -- are available for EMS training. Fully utilizing the features of these manikins is likely to require significant initial training and ongoing involvement in the program to maximize its usefulness. Listen to EMSEduCast Episode 7 — the podcast by and for EMS educators — for thoughts about starting and maintaining a high fidelity patient simulation program.
Finally, talk to neighboring departments and training centers about joint purchasing and sharing of training equipment. There are many cases where this will make sense. Alternatively, there are many situations that -- after calculating the costs of sharing equipment (scheduling, picking-up, dropping-off) — will lead you to decide that having your own training equipment makes the most sense.
Any other suggestions for purchasing manikins and other types of training equipment? Anything we missed in the list above? Leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback.