Latest technology allows medics to train with responsive mannequins
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FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Medics storm the scene, wounded soldiers everywhere. Through the dark, noise and stress, emergency procedures must be done, and done right. That's where this training comes in.
"Muscle memory. They put on so many tourniquets. They start so many IVs. They get in their aid bags so many times, so it gets to a point where they can really do it with their eyes closed. That's the level of proficiency we're shooting for," said Capt. Martin Stewart, Medical Simulation Training Center.
It's something that never could have been done years ago. There just wasn't anything to train with. You couldn't really use real people and dummies couldn't react. But today, technology has gotten so extensive, mannequins can now move, make noises, and even bleed.
"They have everything except for feelings, and I think some of them do have feelings," said Capt. Stewart.
So today, medics can be on Fort Drum and get a responsive subject to work on and do it all under the pressure of a warzone. They are even forced to run an obstacle course before coming in, just to make sure they are a bit tired.
"There's nothing that is going to replicate having a real person, and picking them up and feeling their body weight on a litter or putting an iv catheter in them, but we're getting close," said Capt. Stewart.
"It's quite a dynamic process. It kind of never has an ending. Once you think you've trained everything up, it's time to rethink the process," said Benjamin Jaquay, course coordinator and instructor.
Everything is controlled from a room above. Laptops decide the actions of the mannequins, soundboards do the lighting and battle sounds.
"They're in a very low light, less than austere conditions to make it as realistic as we can. That's the bottom line, give them as much realism as they're going to see so they train as they fight, so to speak," said Jaquay.
Jaquay is able to not only see it all from these screens, but record the sessions for playback later. He says as technology changes, so does the training for the better.
"I have soldiers who go out all the time. I want to see them come back to me. It's a personal thing," said Jaquay.
Some of the latest and greatest technology is already at Fort Drum. Jeremy is a completely wireless mannequin that allows these medics to do situational, in-depth training that they had never been able to do before.
"Ben, he can manipulate all of this via a laptop computer and wi-fi connection. This one has a CPU on board and it's completely wireless. He can manipulate this from up to 100 feet away," said Capt. Stewart.
Jeremy comes complete with teeth that break, a full bladder, eyes that blink and pupils that dilate.
"Eyes constrict and dilate to simulate head injuries. You can also put a pulse oximetry measurement on this patient which is something completely new," said Capt. Stewart.
The medics are also able to get ambulance crews and even the flight medics involved, rushing the mannequins to a medical facility. It's training on Fort Drum that's been so innovative and so successful, that others have come calling.
"We've had a lot of medics come back and say that training we did prior to deployment really made a difference when we were down range. We get a lot of good feedback from commanders. We get feedback from people not even in the 10th Mountain Division saying, ‘What kind of training are you doing over there because your soldiers are doing a great job,’" said Capt. Stewart.