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No dummy: Simulated robot operates with real human vital signs (W/VIDEO)

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A group of EMTs rush into a room to discover a semi-conscious person screaming for help.

“I can’t breathe and my chest hurts,” he says. “Nurse, nurse, help, I can’t … ” 

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The EMTs quickly assess the situation, hooking the patient up to a cardiac monitor and an IV.

This scenario is just one of many Woodbury paramedics have been experiencing over the past decade with a mannequin they call SIMMAN.

SIMMAN (Simulated Mannequin) gives them plenty of opportunities to poke and prod him as a training mechanism as they must brush up on their skills to help with real-life situations in the field.

“When they see him, they see him just like they see someone normal,” said Kevin Asauskas, paramedic and SIMMAN training guru. “They can do all those interventions: IVs, airways, everything from just the normal checking of pulse, to doing some advanced surgical procedures.”

Normal volunteers aren’t always available or willing to get jabbed as much as SIMMAN does.

Plus, Asauskas is able to simulate all sorts of scenarios through a computer system that changes the mannequin’s symptoms, vital signs and lung sounds.

If EMTs give him medications, Asauskas is able to control SIMMAN’s responses and what he says.

Though the team usually goes through training with volunteer actors who get briefed on how they should be feeling, SIMMAN provides those high-risk, low-frequency calls first responders don’t often get to see.

“To know what abnormal actually feels like is hard to describe to people in class,” Asauskas said. “They can figure out what normal is but determining what abnormal is, is a little harder and easier to show” with the mannequin.

SIMMAN has served the Woodbury Public Safety Department well through the years, but he’s showing signs of wear and tear, so the department is hoping to buy a new model next year for $65,000, pending final City Council approval of the city’s budget.

The new mannequin is not as confined as the current one. It’s not connected with as many wires and cords and is able to do a lot more to show paramedics how to deal with even more traumatic medical scenarios.

“We’ll make fake blood, we’ll make fake vomit,” Asauskas said of the new model. “It really adds something when people walk in and see that.

“Even if they know it’s fake, they walk in and it adds a different element for them.”

Woodbury EMTs began a new series of training sessions earlier in July where they used SIMMAN as well as other techniques and transported patients to the hospital.

Depending on the severity of the situation, paramedics respond in the training room just as they would on the field or in the ambulance.

“You actually see people sweat here and get nervous just like on a real call,” J.B. Guiton, emergency medical services commander, said. “Anything that can happen in the real world, we can recreate here.”

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Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.
(651) 702-0974
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