Coconino Community College nursing, firefighting and emergency medical service students will soon be practicing on a breathing, bleeding, even complaining, patient.
However, he is not actually alive.
With help from grants from the Arizona Community Foundation of Flagstaff, the Capstone Health Fund and Northern Arizona Healthcare and the Perkins Grant, CCC was able to purchase Trauma Hal, a realistic dummy that instructors can use to prepare students for real-life scenarios.
Director of Nursing and Allied Health Lori Edwards said the dummy costs just over $70,000, and their model is the state-of-the-art technology in the field.
“We can simulate a variety of traumas like EMS would see on the highways,” Edwards said. “For the nursing students, we can simulate systems that the students might not see very often in their clinical situations.”
Edwards said the dummy can ‘die’ to give students practice of what to do in a “code situation,” which they might not see during the practical portions of their courses.
“We can also practice the early basic skills, like taking blood pressure or pulse rates,” Edwards said. “We want them to know what these things sound like.”
Edwards said she or another supervisor can also manipulate the scenario from a laptop, meaning she could cause the blood pressure to change or the breathing to become erratic to train the students for a variety of situations.
“We can show them cardiac rhythms and ask what a person would do in each situation,” Edwards said.
The dummy comes with a variety of wound kits, including fractured bones, burns and amputations that can be filled with fake blood to actually bleed. The skin on the dummy’s leg, chest and other areas peels away, so students can see the body parts underneath, like bones, lungs and the heart. The inner elbow area is soft so students can practice starting IV lines.
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Edwards said the breathing and heartbeat from the dummy sound “extremely” lifelike, so students will know what to expect when listening to a real person.
The dummy has a rechargeable battery and can communicate wirelessly with the laptop, so a teacher in another room can manipulate the situation. The dummy also has phrases it can say, like “My head hurts,” or other complaints about symptoms.
However, a teacher can also use a headset to speak through the dummy, so a student can ask a question, and a teacher can answer for the dummy.
Edwards said fire science and EMT students have already begun to practice basics with the dummy. She said she and David Manning, CCC’s Fire Science and Emergency Medical Service Program Coordinator and Instructor, will attend extensive training over the summer to get acquainted with all of the features and abilities. Edwards said she expects students to begin using it in the fall.
“Before we can put something in front of students, we have to make sure we all know how to use it,” she said.
She plans to train faculty over the summer. She said they know many of the basic functions, but want to try more complex scenarios with it before introducing it into the classroom for nursing students.
Edwards said the dummy will travel to different locations for EMT practice and certifications, as well as renewing certifications for firefighters and EMTs.
The dummy is the first simulator used at CCC, which has used traditional dummies and other classroom materials before. The college’s nursing program recently earned a four-year reaccreditation from the Arizona State Board of Nursing.
CCC spokesman Scott Talboom said the college is looking at other creative and collaborative ways to fund advancements at the college, like the combination of grants that allowed the school to buy the trauma dummy.
“So many funding sources were put together to get this,” Talboom said. “It’s a collaborative effort. There’s no way we could have gone out and bought this piece of high-tech equipment without that funding.”