Mobile simulators changing EMS training in West Virginia
by: Kathryn Ghion
Posted: Apr 12, 2023 / 07:24 PM EDT
Updated: Apr 13, 2023 / 05:16 AM EDT
(WTRF) – If you had to call 911, wouldn't you hope the people who respond have the highest level of training?
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In West Virginia, they now do.
Governor Jim Justice's EMS initiative brought mobile ambulance simulators to train the state's EMTs and paramedics.
Now, months into the program, they are beginning to solve the problem of boosting the profession's numbers.
West Virginia announces $10 million to recruit, train EMS workforce
It may have taken them two or three years to get as many calls as we can simulate.
Now students in EMS programs across West Virginia are ready to join the workforce with more experience than ever before.
That's because the scenarios created inside this mobile simulator are as close to real-life as you can get.
From day one with the EMT class that we have going on now, when we taught them CPR, we put them in this ambulance and drove them around Wheeling while they did CPR on this mannequin.
From newborns to geriatric patients, and even a mom having a baby, students can respond to it all.
And the equipment can be taken out of the ambulance if need be, creating a skills lab just about anywhere.
While in the simulator they’ll be watched closely by instructors who create these scenarios, anything from a seemingly routine call to something that deals with what's called "low frequency high acuity patients" meaning it's rarely seen in the field.
You may only get one call like that a year and if it only happens one time in your area what's the chances of you being the crew on that gets it? Now we can simulate it and everybody is going to get that training.
As exciting as these simulators are, they’re also solving very real issues facing EMTs and paramedics.
Since the simulator is mobile, it can travel to any department in the Mountain State. That makes it easier for continued training and cuts down the time EMS workers are off the clock from responding to calls.
So if you have an advanced student, currently the advanced class meets every Saturday, so if they have a Saturday lab for eight hours and they’re scheduled to work not only do they have to take personal time off, then their employer has to back fill that position.
Since that training is easier, more people are now interested.
Cooper said numbers are already up in parts of the Mountain State, citing one county in particular where there's been a noticeable rise.
In that county they have two paramedics for the entire county. Well, through the use of the truck they were able to set up a satellite campus through that community college and they have 14 people in their paramedic program right now.
With five simulators across West Virginia, it's real-life training you won't find anywhere else.
Other than a handful of trucks uh from the company that made these, we have the biggest fleet of mobile healthcare simulation units in the country at the moment.
The fleet of five mobile ambulance simulators reside in Wheeling, Martinsburg, Beckley and Charleston. However, they can travel all over the surrounding areas.
The ambulance simulators are managed by HealthNet Aeromedical Services.
They say any EMS training program, even individual departments or hospitals across West Virginia can request to use the vehicles and equipment for continued education.
Visit emswv.com to schedule.
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