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Rural EMSers to Get High-Tech Simulation Training

Even in a fast-growing, heavily populated state like Florida, it can be hard to get quality training. EMS students and providers in the state’s rural areas have sometimes been handicapped by poor access to the latest technologies. Through a new project from the state’s Emergency Medicine Learning and Resource Center (EMLRC, better known as the Florida Emergency Medicine Foundation), high-tech training will come to them. The EMLRC has received a $460,000 grant from the state’s Department of Health to develop a mobile simulation lab for training EMSers in the state.

The vehicle, to be constructed on a motor-home-type chassis, will include patient simulators, computer networks and patient-care areas. A pair of labs (adult and pediatric) will flank a media room from which instructors or techs can control a full range of multimedia features. Manikins and other simulation accessories will be added.

“We wanted to do something for the rural paramedic programs in the state, because they sometimes seem to get left behind,” says EMLRC Director John Todaro. “We wanted to develop some sort of simulation project where we could go out to the rural paramedic programs—and maybe even the rural nursing programs later on—and give them access to patient simulations, where they could begin testing their students using simulators they couldn’t otherwise afford.”

The simulator’s primary audience will be EMS classes at the state’s rural community colleges, and EMLRC will develop an educational co-op system to guide that use. After the grant expires, EMLRC will continue offering the lab through the co-op structure.

Additionally, the simulator will also be used to facilitate continuing-education training for providers in the hinterlands.

“The community colleges are the primary targets, but secondary targets will be rural EMS agencies that may want to use it for continuing education or skills testing,” says Todaro. “Those uses aren’t included in the grant, but with a $460,000 lab, you’re going to want to maximize its uses.”

Beyond the EMS environment, the vehicle could potentially be used in other healthcare initiatives, Todaro says, and even, if circumstances allow, in support of a real MCI. The lab is expected to be finished and operational by summer 2005.

—JE

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