Skills lab helps improve casualty care

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jennifer Gerhardt
  • 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Being part of the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and a civilian cardiology nurse specialist, Lt. Col. Randy Miller has experience with wounded troops at downrange locations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One way he prepares for the different encounters is with realistic mannequins and training scenarios, courtesy of the 446th AES.

"We have one of the four regional skills labs in the United States," said Technical Sgt. Chris Hamel, a medical technician in the 446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron. "We're able to train hundreds of people each year from McChord and Fort Lewis."

The skills lab is set up into different stations with $6,000 mannequins placed in each one. These life-like "human simulators" have computerized sensors that can react to any treatment applied.

"The mannequins breathe, cough, bleed, and secrete fluid," said Technical Sgt. Pamela Higgins, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the skills lab. "You can hear their heartbeat, as well as sounds from their lungs and bowels."

People who are training can put chest tubes in the mannequins, do needle compressions and run tubes down their throats to secure airways and provide oxygen directly to the lungs. The mannequins can even simulate cardiac arrest.

"These mannequins come as close to realism as you can get, thanks to technology," said Colonel Miller, 446th AES and also a cardiology nurse specialist at Madigan. "You're able to do multiple training scenarios and tailor the training to nurses and technicians."

Among other training scenarios, Colonel Miller has used the mannequins to practice advanced cardio life support.

"These mannequins are an excellent training tool," said Colonel Miller. "It's important to prepare for the different situations with hands-on training and realistic scenarios before heading downrange."