Bismarck soon will be getting an emergency medical simulation truck to help train critical care hospitals and emergency medical services units, especially in rural areas.
The University of North Dakota, in partnership with the six major hospitals in the state - including St. Alexius Medical Center and Sanford Health in Bismarck - has set up Simulation in Motion-North Dakota, or SIM-ND, to improve training across the state.
SIM-ND is coordinated through UND. There are simulation trucks in Fargo, Grand Forks, Bismarck and Minot and each city has its own team of trainers, including emergency room nurses, paramedics and doctors.
In Bismarck, both Sanford and St. Alexius have teams, although they operate together under the SIM-ND umbrella.
All four trucks were on display Wednesday at the North Dakota Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Conference at the Ramkota Hotel in Bismarck.
The trucks have both a simulated emergency room and a simulated ambulance area. Groups are given an emergency scenario and have 15 minutes to respond. Then they talk about the scenario and do it once more.
A control room in the middle of the truck adjusts vital signs for mannequins based on what the group is doing.
"It's a safe situation to practice these scenarios and (the patients) never die," said Barb Warren-Bloms, the SIM-ND coordinator for St. Alexius.
Many of the scenarios were created to be uncommon, especially in more rural areas - like a multiple casualty event or a major burn injury.
Funding for the program comes from a Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust grant. The program hopes to be funded by the state after the grant is up in three years.
If all four trucks work about three days a week, the teams would be able to get training to all critical care hospitals and EMS units in the state once a year, according to Dr. John Allen, the SIM-ND medical director.
Allen said people in emergency medicine are excited about the opportunities the program provides. The Minot truck, he said, already has a large number of training sessions set up.
The Bismarck truck has yet to book training, but Warren-Bloms said that will likely change soon.
"As facilities learn about this, we'll get busier and busier," she said.
Deb Grabow, the SIM-ND coordinator for Sanford in Bismarck, said she hopes it will bring more awareness and training across the state.
"This (program) is great," she said. "It's all we've ever wanted to do as nurses and then some."
With the simulation trucks, she said, rural hospitals and EMS units can now be prepared for scenarios they don't often encounter.
"It's the future of education, especially in rural health care," Grabow said.
Really, it's all about safer, more efficient patient care, Allen said.
"The goal is to improve patient safety in North Dakota and deliver absolutely the best care we can," he said.