Sep. 6--HARLINGEN -- Students at Texas State Technical College's Emergency Medical Technician program will have a sense of realism injected into their studies this semester.
An ambulance simulator, which looks like the medical compartment of a fully equipped ambulance, will be their latest classroom tool.
The equipment, which includes the ambulance and two cameras from which teachers can observe students as they train, was purchased with grant money from the University of Texas at San Antonio Health Science Center.
Barbara Bennett, TSTC's division director of health programs, said the college received about $54,000 that included both federal and state funds for the health programs. About $30,000 was spent on the simulator ambulance and the rest was used to hire a program coordinator and for supplemental teaching materials, Bennett said.
"We wanted to promote health careers and since there's such a need for EMTs, we felt that it was important to (purchase) the ambulance simulator."
Roy Garza, EMT instructor at the college, said the simulator will be used for the first time this semester.
"(The simulator) will give the students a sense of realism," Garza said. "This is like our office."
Garza said by using this new equipment students will learn about where things are found in the ambulance, where to sit, how tight their space in an ambulance will be when they treat a patient and familiarize themselves with their work setting before they actually start their careers.
"The most common complaint we get from students is that they feel awkward when they get into an ambulance," Garza said. "The simulator ambulance is very accurate in set up. It is set up like the Harlingen Emergency Medical Service."
The simulator ambulance is equipped with everything from bandages to even a defibrillator and ventilator.
Pete Moreno, training officer for Valley Air Care, an emergency helicopter service, agreed that the simulator ambulance will prepare students to work in real life settings when considering other factors like traveling 50 to 60 mph while treating an actual patient.
Yolanda Ramirez, a student in the EMT program at TSTC and intermediate paramedic for South Texas Emergency Care, said the simulator ambulance is very much the same in set up as in the ambulance where she works now.
"When I first started, we didn't have this," Ramirez said. "This does really benefit (students). They need to get familiarized with how things are set up and how to position yourself so they won't feel out of place (in the ambulance)."Bennett said she hopes the simulator ambulance will help draw students to the EMT program at the college.