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Goodfellow's 312th TRS modernizes emergency medical responders course

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Robyn Hunsinger
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Manikins have been used since the 1960s, helping medical professionals learn how to accurately assess and treat patients in a simulated situation. The first medical manikins were used to teach resuscitation then later developed for teaching things such as anesthesiology and childbirth. 

The 312th Training Squadron here recently acquired new and improved HAL Manikins as a training tool in the Emergency Medical Responders course. These manikins allow students to diagnose and assist the patient by taking vitals and asking questions.

“The students come in and act as EMR teams of two to three with all their equipment,” said Tech. Sgt. Chad Johns, 312th TRS fire protection instructor supervisor and head of the EMR course rewrite. “The students will ask the patient, ‘what seems to be the problem?’ and based on the patient’s answers, they will provide treatment for that patient. If the patient were having difficulty breathing, they would give oxygen, making sure to take their vitals and asking them some questions about what might be going on and their history.”

To integrate this new technology, the EMR course was rewritten and gives students a more realistic training environment. 

“It makes a world of difference when you have a simulated person that can respond to everything you say, actually has vitals, and has a pulse,” said Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Charles Taylor, 312th TRS fire protection student and aviation boatswain’s mate aircraft handler. “You can see if they are breathing, see if they react to any stimulus. They almost feel like actual human beings.”

The manikins were donated to Goodfellow by Howard College in San Angelo, Texas. 

“We received the manikins from Howard College through a grant,” said Johns. “We received one of them and it was terrific. We found out everything that they can do. They can do more than what we need. It’s an amazing tool for us. Once we received one of them, we were able to receive two more also through Howard College.”

The three manikins are set up in separate rooms in a simulated apartment building, which allows instructors to give students multiple scenarios from a separate control room. The instructors can control the manikins’ vitals, speech, and eye movements, including pupil dilation, from this room. 

“We have a tablet that allows us to control the manikin through that tablet,” said Johns. “We monitor the manikin and the students and how they interact through a camera set up in the room. Based on the students’ questions, we can answer them through that tablet. We have prerecorded responses that we can give the students through the manikin itself.”

Although it is still the same EMR Course provided to medical professionals nationwide, the new equipment and course rewrite allows students a glimpse of how an emergency situation will feel.

“The class being rewritten to be more hands-on does prepare me a bit more but it doesn’t just help me here obtaining the information,” said Taylor. “In the event of a real-world situation, it takes away some of that edge of nervousness and gets me into the mindset of being able to see the issue and taking the steps needed to assist the person. In the unfortunate chance that something does go wrong, I know I will be ready to respond.”

With the new HAL Manikins, the 312th TRS can provide their students with a real-world setting and simulation of how to accurately assess and assist a patient in emergency and trauma situations. 

“Everything that this manikin can do is what we geared the new course rewrite toward,” said Johns. “We wanted a patient to be able to tell the student what is going on with them without it being another student or an instructor. They can do all of that. We are perfectly happy with the way EMR is running its training right now. We have absolutely revolutionized our EMR training here at Goodfellow.”