Simulate, emulate: 81st MDG SIM Lab

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Davis
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

The patient’s eyes blink and their chest softly lifts up and down. A doctor moves to their side to ask how they are feeling, and a computer prompts the patient to respond with a sudden erratic heartbeat.

With an average of 3,500 student hours a month, the 81st Medical Group simulation lab is an essential tool used to train life-saving skills to medical personnel.

The technology in the SIM Lab mannequins allows continuous process improvement for medical personnel in realistic emergency scenarios with a range of life-like features such as breathing, circulation, bleeding, fluid secretions and speech.

“The evolution in training from years ago, from the basic Rescue Annie mannequins to what we have now, is incredible,” said Brad Belford, 81st MDG medical simulation operator. “Students have gone from asking the training instructor what their patient’s pulse is to the patient being able to tell the student themselves.”

The students are often tasked to work as strangers on a team and care for a simulated patient in distress. Teamwork is essential to saving lives in emergency situations, on and off the battlefield.

"In an emergency, or deployed, you don't always get to pick your teammates," said Capt. Kimberly Warstler, 81st Healthcare Operations Squadron element chief. "You must learn how to work together quickly, utilizing each other's strengths, in order to save your patient's life."

The SIM Lab offers their training to as many groups as they can, and regularly work with local high schools and other service branches to provide trusted care anytime, anywhere.

“We never say no if we can help it. Medics have a huge job and only have so much time to get things done,” said Randy Bernhardt, 81st MDG coordinator of medical simulation training. “My crew is amazing and will be there to help however we can; I’ll train you in the parking lot if I need to.”