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PCC contributes to new high-tech emergency simulator in Washington County
Photos and Story by James Hill
Portland Community College has partnered with three area organizations to develop a $350,000-$400,000 state-of-the-art, high fidelity mobile simulation vehicle to help its students simulate real-life emergencies.
After more than three years of planning and development, the vehicle was unveiled in early March at Hillsboro Fire Station No. 6, where it will be housed. The simulation vehicle is equipped like a fully functioning ambulance. Lifelike on-board mannequins breathe, sweat, bleed and even talk.
They will be used to train students on inserting IVs, advanced airway and life support, chest decompressions, injecting fluids and medications directly into bone, and other life saving measures. The ambulance is outfitted with sophisticated audiovisual equipment that allows students outside of the vehicle to observe what is happening inside as a critical element in the debriefing process.
PCC, Washington County Emergency Medical Services Office, Oregon Health & Science University’s Department of Emergency Medicine and Oregon Institute of Technology in Portland are the partners in this effort. In exchange for providing funding, expertise or other resources, each partner agency is able to utilize the vehicle to conduct trainings.
“We had been looking to expand our simulation program, too,” said John Saito, Dean of Allied Health, Emergency, and Legal Services at the Cascade Campus. “When Washington County EMS approached us to partner with them on this project, it afforded an opportunity for us to gain access to people and equipment that we could not have afforded on our own.”
At PCC, programs such as emergency medical services, medical assisting and fire protection housed at the Cascade Campus, and dental hygiene and nursing based at the Sylvania Campus will utilize the mobile simulator at some point. In addition, Saito said he plans to take the vehicle out to K-12 schools for healthcare education events to show students the opportunities that are available in healthcare. The college contributed $100,000 in Bond Program funds to buy the interactive mannequins for use on the vehicle.
“We have access now for a three-year period,” Saito added. “And in return we will contribute our scenario development and those sorts of things to our partners.”
The truck is already paying dividends for PCC. The first simulation happened with paramedic students on March 12 at the Cascade Campus in North Portland.
Besides the educational part, Jonathan Chin, program supervisor for Washington County EMS, said the vehicle is perfect for the county’s collection of rural fire stations that may not have the resources to conduct simulations. Now, the vehicle can come to them either at their stations or in remote locations, such as the national forest.
“We made it happen,” he said. “I’m very pleased. This is has been a really fun project to work on. It has been an incredibly productive project in regards of building relationships and building the network, and we have this to show for it.”
Equipment on board the sim vehicle include:
- Two high fidelity patient simulators to train paramedics and EMTs on procedures such as advanced airway skills, trauma care and medical assessment. They also recognize administered medications and dosages (to prevent drug errors).
- CMAC, an advanced airway device, enables students and instructors to visualize airway intubation placement via fiber optics. It’s one of only two in the state of Oregon.
- Stryker Power Gurney (Metro West) enables trainees to work on what is becoming a standard piece of equipment for movement, loading, and unloading of patients from ambulances.
- Philips MRX is the primary defibrillator used for monitoring and caring for patients in cardiac arrest in Washington County.
- Response bags and equipment set up to mimic similar equipment used in Washington County fire departments and ambulances.