New ‘SimMan’ puts reality into medical training

Spc. Todd Goodman
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

***image1***“He’s starting to respond, guys. He opened up his eyes. That’s a good sign” said John Rodgers, a training specialist who spent a week at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center giving lessons on a new training device.
In the 1970s there was a television show about a six-million dollar man. Today there is the $27,000 man. Call it reverse inflation, but this man is changing the way Army medics learn their craft.
Dubbed the SimMan, this simulation mannequin is the closest thing to an actual patient on which a medic can train. SimMan has a pulse. He can moan. He can sweat. He can foam at the mouth. And his vocabulary is nothing short of amazing.
“He says all kinds of stuff,” said Benjamin French, Bearing Point simulation project manager. “I can’t breathe. Ouch, that hurts. Stop doing that. He can be programmed to say whatever you want.”
Correct medical treatment will keep the “Ouch, that hurts” comments down to a minimum. An incorrect diagnosis can lead to SimMan disaster.
“If you don’t do the right things to it, it will die,” said Mr. French.
In addition to the bodily fluids, the SimMan has an NBC module so medics can practice treating toxic gas related injuries. It also has a bleeding module, which will cause the patient to bleed like a stuck pig until the proper treatment is administered. The SimMan’s blood is a mixture of dishwashing soap and coloring agent, said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Sheryl Meadows, LRMC Education Division chief.
This simulation training program contains two parts – micro and macro. MacroSim is the simulation man, itself. MicroSim is a computer program that medics can use to brush up on their life-saving skills.
“It trains the thought process,” said Mr. Rodgers. “It enables medics to make quick decisions in the field.”
MicroSim users have plenty of treatment options ranging from drugs to IV’s at their disposal. Much like in treating the SimMan, failure could lead to a lost patient.
“You do the right treatment, the patient gets better,” said Colonel Meadows. “You use the wrong treatment and the patient gets worse.”
Simulation training in medicine is heading down the same road as simulation training in aviation, said Mr. French. LRMC has four SimMen on which to train.
“I am extremely excited,” said Colonel Meadows. “We are going to be the premiere medic training facility in Europe.”
Medics will be able to train both at LRMC and in the field, as this act soon will be going on the road, she said.
“We are taking the SimMan to Belgium and Italy in March to do some training,” said Colonel Meadows. “People also will be able to come here to train. All facets of the program can be used by doctors and nurses as well.”
Simulation training at LRMC will be a two-day course, she said. For more information on training opportunities, call Tim Koenig, lead instructor, at 486-8863.