NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — After learning and memorizing procedures on how to effectively administer resuscitation skills for newly born infants, Airmen of the 99th Medical Group are expected to perform their training on a mannequin when attending the Neonatal Resuscitation Program course at Nellis’ Medical Simulation Center.
This mannequin isn’t a static mannequin that Airmen may normally train with during refresher courses. The high fidelity mannequins the MSC incorporates into the Airmen’s training are as close to a real person as you can get without using a living patient.
Lt. Gen. Charles Green, the Air Force surgeon general, pushed people like Flordevic Chamblee, Intercity Funds International medical simulation operator, to include high fidelity mannequins into the training curriculum at Nellis AFB in 2008.
“General Green had a mindset of how to change training to add more realism,” Chamblee said. “Back in the day, you would have a static mannequin lying there, and you would be told by an instructor ‘alright he’s bleeding from here.’ Now with our high fidelity mannequins you can see the profuse bleeding and hear lung and heart sounds. You can get your hands on that mannequin like it is an actual patient that you would be assessing here or in a combat zone.”
With the new equipment to conduct medical training Kay Nims, 99th Medical Group Intercity Funds International medical simulation operator, believes Airmen will be tested to a higher level, and the Air Force can benefit from the realism the high fidelity mannequins can provide. The course is designed to increase training effectiveness by forcing trainees to learn by doing, taking risks, solving problems, developing critical thinking skills, learning leadership, learning new skills in a safe environment, improving clinical performance, discovering their strengths and weaknesses and working as a team.
“It is a good idea for a person to practice on a [high fidelity] mannequin before a real patient,” Nims said. “Training with the mannequins decreases medical errors, lowers training costs, and makes your team work together through communication. It helps develop leaders too.”
Training instructors at the MSC are also impressed with what the advanced mannequins are capable of.
“Sometimes it’s harder for people to play out the role that they need to if they have a mannequin that just does nothing,” said 1st Lt. Lauren Johnson, 99th MDG clinical nurse and MSC NRP training instructor. “Our [simulated infant mannequin] actually breathes, grunts, moves and can turn blue. It gives you the best type of experience closest to providing care for a real infant so you know what to look for and can pay attention to those signs.”
For Raymond Paul, 99th MDG patient safety monitor, the medical training at Nellis AFB can be compared in some ways to other areas of the Air Force.
“You can relate it to the flying community,” Paul said. “The flying community uses flying simulators because the Air Force has found that it’s a good way for Airmen to gain skills with less cost. That is the same thing we do at the [MSC]. Medics can practice on these high fidelity mannequins without having to do it on a real patient who may have to suffer the effects of someone still learning.”
Airmen are able to train through realistic scenarios over and over again so when they face a real world situation either here or overseas they will do it right, Paul added. The patient will benefit from that.
“Of course the training makes you nervous,” said Senior Airman Breyana Penn, 99th Medical Operations Squadron medical technician. “If you remember what you’ve learned, the performance while training should come naturally. Don’t let fear get in your way.”
Members of the MSC hope for this training to become more widely available to more than just the medical community here in the future.
“We’re trying to get with medical readiness and become a part of the base exercises,” Nims said. “We are constantly in touch with them to get involved.”
The MSC hopes to offer this training to other squadrons and may attempt to spread the classes to Creech AFB and future exercises.
“I would love to get our high fidelity trauma mannequins involved in an exercise,” Nims said. “That is one of our major goals.”