(AP) FAIRFAX, Va. - A big windowless bus loaded with high-tech equipment is making the rounds of Fairfax County fire stations to provide training for firefighters and paramedics in the latest emergency medical techniques.
The mobile training unit has a classroom where up to 10 people at a time can get hands-on training, using portable devices such as "Sim Man," a full-size male dummy that can be controlled remotely and was developed by the U.S. Army.
"Just about everything you can do with a regular person, you can do with this," said Capt. Richard Yuras, program manager for emergency medical services for the Fairfax Fire and Rescue Department.
Sim Man reacts to treatment like a real person in many ways. His eyes blink, and his pupils dilate and contract, Yuras said. He has functioning lungs, and his heart can produce a variety of sounds and rhythms.
The mannequin has a spot in his right arm for intravenous fluids and will react appropriately if he gets too much, or not enough, of the necessary fluid, Yuras said. A remote operator can speak to students through Sim Man's mouth.
Operators can also introduce ambient noise, such as sirens, to reproduce the frenzied conditions of a real emergency.
Lt. Thomas Connolly, who runs some training sessions and drives the bus, says the vehicle is much more instructive than "an antiseptic classroom."
The bus also has the advantage of mobility. Instead of requiring firefighters to leave their stations unmanned while they go to training sessions, the training now comes to them. If a call comes in, the training session stops so the firefighters can respond.
The bus and the equipment inside was paid for with $435,000 in state grants. The grant money came from a $4 fee specifically allocated for emergency medical training that is included in every vehicle registration in Virginia.
The bus made its debut June 15. Trainers are trying to conduct four or five classes per day with it, Yuras said. The bus will also be rolled out for some community demonstrations.
Information from: The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com