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Mobile simulation training vehicles bring EMS training to Iowa first responders

The University of Iowa Simulation in Motion’s three vehicles each carry a simulated emergency bay, ambulance box and four patient simulators.


Simulation in Motion-IA/Facebook

By Alexander Schmidt
Globe Gazette

ST. ANSGAR, Iowa — More than 60 people who serve Mitchell County as emergency responders participated in training from the University of Iowa Simulation in Motion-IA program held in St. Ansgar on Thursday.

Personnel from the Mitchell County Regional Health Center emergency department, providers, and EMS personnel, along with St. Ansgar EMS and the Mitchell County Sheriff’s Office participated in the training

SIM-IA is a cutting-edge mobile education program that brings high-quality, evidence-based clinical education to EMS and hospital professionals across the state. Each fully equipped mobile simulation truck features a simulated emergency bay, ambulance box, and video recording for analysis and debriefing, as well as four patient simulators.

Brian Rechkemmer, who directs the program through the University of Iowa College of Nursing, says the first truck, which hit the road in July, is the first of three trucks purchased through an $8 million endowment from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. “With this simulation vehicle, we’re able to come right to (rural communities’) front door, right at their location and everybody can get the exact same training.”

The training in St. Ansgar was hosted with the support of St. Ansgar residents Gary G. Gerlach and Karen Ann “Kacie” Conner.

“Kacie and I are pleased and honored to host the SIM-IA training team and the big and beautiful SIM-IA truck in our town,” Gerlach said in a statement. “Rural communities like St. Ansgar don’t often have ready access to the best of the best. Our volunteer and professional health care workers are all looking forward to a fabulous training event.”

Gerlach continued, “Kacie and I are especially proud that the UI College of Nursing is home to an undergraduate merit scholarship program in honor of my sister, St. Ansgar native LuAnn Gerlach. LuAnn was a student in the College of Nursing when she died tragically in 1965, at age 20. Over 100 merit scholarships have been awarded to UI nursing students in LuAnn’s honor.”

In its first year, the truck runs four to five days a week, this being the 126th event in 52 counties. The truck is based in Iowa City, but future trucks will provide coverage based out of Sioux City and Des Moines, allowing the program to reach all 99 of Iowa’s counties by 2024.

The truck is fitted with four high-fidelity patient manakins: one adult male, one adult female who can give birth, one school-aged child, and one newborn infant. The two rooms can simulate either a fully equipped emergency room bay or the ambulance treatment box for treating patients at the scene and are capable of running dozens of training scenarios — from heart attacks and traumatic injuries to airway obstruction and medication errors — in order to provide a safe training environment for emergency personnel.

Thursday’s simulation ran two scenarios: a tractor rollover resulting in an arm dismemberment, and an incident in which a vehicle struck a child.

David Husmann is the lead educator for the truck and says he makes scenarios as immersive as possible.

“Not only do our techs have to know and control the vitals of the patient, but they have to be a bit of an actor as well,” Husmann said. “Children are going to be scared and their parents may or may not be around, so it’s important [we] portray that voice to give the students the full experience of the seriousness of the emergency.”

Beth Trees, chief nursing officer at MCRHC, said after undergoing the training, “It’s very impressive, very lifelike.” Mitchell County Sheriff’s Deputy Luke Irvin said his training in the past has “tried to be as lifelike as possible, but this is actually giving you feedback in real-time ... you get a pretty good way to gauge yourself.”

This training provides first responders credit hours toward their re-certification. The University of Iowa says that there are 11,770 certified EMS providers in Iowa, and 70% of Iowa hospitals are critical-access hospitals.

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