More than 170 members of the international medical community from 16 nations filled Ramstein’s Hercules Theater March 10 for the first day of the 29th Ramstein Aerospace Medicine Summit and NATO Science and Technology Organization Technical Course.
The annual summit is a joint effort between the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Surgeon General’s office and NATO to share information in the aerospace medical world and build relationships with international partners.
On the first day of the conference attendees learned about emerging technology, medical evacuation on the African continent and advances in simulation training.
“Using simulators really enhances our training, because we use various scenario-based events to train and develop skilled, competent medical professionals,” said Carlos G. Rodriguez, 86th Medical Group simulation coordinator.
Rodriguez said utilizing human simulators, rather than live patients, has several benefits.
“By using the simulators, we are able to mimic everything a human casualty or sick patient may experience,” he said. “The simulators can bleed, blink, talk, breathe, move and have a pulse.”
Medical technicians can practice administering intravenous fluids, airway intubation procedures, electrocardiogram monitoring and defibrillation, Rodriguez said.
Christopher Williams, 86th MDG simulator operator, said the simulators provide a realistic training environment.
Previously, students referred to instructors to learn vital information like the patient’s pulse rate or if the patient was breathing. Now, students assess the simulators, which provide realistic signs and symptoms. As a result, the number of instructor injects has greatly been reduced, Williams said.
“This leads to the most realistic training possible, because when you’re downrange, you have to make those decisions right there,” he said.
The simulators have also greatly enhanced self aid buddy care training, said Tech. Sgt. Mariah Pike, 86th Airlift Wing SABC adviser.
Good medical care starts at the lowest level, and SABC is the U.S. Air Force version of non-medical responders applying medical care in the field, she said.
“It’s not just medics who get this training. It’s all Airmen,” Pike said. “We’ve taught them how to apply tourniquets, how to properly apply an emergency bandage, as well as other bleeding control measures. With the simulators we’re preparing them for almost any medical situation they may encounter.”
In 2013, more than 1,500 Airmen used the simulators to practice a variety of medical skills.
Lt. Col. Bo Norenberg, command surgeon with the Danish air force, said he was impressed by the simulators.
“They’re much better than the simulators that we have,” he said. “They’re more natural and very suitable for first aid training.”
One of the things Norenberg said he appreciated the most was the capabilities the simulators provide.
People can practice artery compression and applying bandages to stop bleeding and the simulators can be programmed to lose a vast amount of blood, if the people working on them don’t perform the techniques properly, he said.
“These simulators are the best I’ve seen,” he added.
Ramstein received its first human simulators in June 2012. Shortly after their arrival, the 86th MDG started using them to teach the Advanced Cardio Life Support Course, as well as CPR courses for medical professionals in the KMC. The simulators are also used for base readiness and mass-casualty exercises.
Ramstein now has nine simulators at a cost of more than $400,000, and the capability they provide is worth every cent, Williams said.
“You could probably spend up to $80,000 on one of our simulators, but if you look at the lives saved, it’s well worth it,” he said.
The Aerospace Medicine Summit and NATO STO Technical Course ended March 14.