Mobile simulation lab trains first responders following closures of Missouri rural hospitals

Fulton, Missouri — In the last eight years, Missouri closed 15 hospitals, mostly in rural areas.

According to the Missouri Hospital Association, 10 rural hospitals have closed since 2014, mostly due to staffing shortages and economic problems. His 38-foot RV is now moving through Missouri, equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and simulations to train first responders.

Nowhere else in Missouri, a one-of-a-kind mobile training facility with lifelike patient simulators.

Dena Higbee, director of simulation at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, said: “they [trainees] Experience infant, pediatrics, adult care and even birth simulation anywhere. “

According to Higbee, the idea for a new training lab on wheels, costing $400,000, began in 2010 when the school used a 30-foot RV in 2002 to train first responders, health care providers, and critical access hospitals. , firefighters, and EMTs. Training exercises include cardiac arrest, trauma, and obstetric delivery.

“Now we can scale to make more simulators available,” said Higbee. “Because of the manpower shortage, there is a greater need across rural communities. [trainees] come in and their [simulators] Seeing that it’s actually blinking, reacting, following you, and actually raising its chest and responding to its vital signs, here’s where the “haha” moment occurs. “

A brand-new custom-built RV travels through rural Missouri to provide hands-on simulations and train first responders and healthcare providers. At the first stop south of Fulton in Callaway County, an EMT was tested on how an infant and her 5-year-old react when they are in distress.

“I want to go home,” said the five-year-old Simulator, crying. “Don’t touch me.”

“It may be the first time you’ve interacted with a simulator when you’re out in a rural facility like this,” Higby said. “Or it’s gotten to see how the compression actually affects the patient, that the compression is actually very good and that the patient is getting the flow of oxygen they need.”

The scenario is controlled from an operator behind the walls of the control room, manipulating vital signs, speech and noise from the simulator, and providing first responders with information about the call.

“We have two cameras on the ceiling and microphones that can record scenarios and later play videos for debriefing,” says Higbee. “Having access to this kind of more high-tech, really responsive equipment needed to care for patients has enhanced the kind of training they (trainees) have had in the past. rice field.”

A patient’s vitals are displayed on a monitor in one of the rooms, allowing trainees to see how the simulator is responding to care.

“They have heart sounds, lung sounds, vital signs, and they can all be altered,” Higby said. “We can perform cardiac arrest with them, we can perform compressions, we can ventilate them, we can wear oxygen masks.”

With the situation in rural hospitals across the state, Higbie said this training is more important than ever.

“With smaller hospitals closed, people are under pressure to expand the care they have been providing for years,” says Higbee. “Whether in community hospitals or paramedics, first responders are the first line of defense for better patient care.”

Over the next six months, with funding from the Federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), mobile simulation centers will travel statewide to provide 20 free trainings. During these trainings, Higby said the goal was for him to train 30 first responders or health care providers per day.

“I’ve been doing simulations for about 29 years, and I’m always more excited when I’m doing these rural trainings because I get to see those moments for people who aren’t familiar with simulators.” said Higbee. .

She said the university hopes to receive more funding next summer to continue the free training.

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