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Roane State has new ambulance simulator

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 Often, they must do that job in a confined box where they barely have room to stand.

To help emergency medical technician and paramedic students learn what it’s like to work in the back of an ambulance, Roane State Community College installed a $29,000 ambulance simulator at the college’s Knox County Center for Health Sciences. 

The simulator was purchased with grant funds provided through the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006.

“Being able to do CPR when you can kneel down beside a patient is one thing,” said David Blevins, director of Roane State’s EMT/paramedic program. “But in the back of an ambulance, it’s not the same. 

“The simulator gives students the next level of realism in a controlled environment, before they are in the back of an ambulance with someone’s family member.”

Rescue Simulation Products manufactured the simulator, which includes everything that would be in a real-life ambulance. 

The simulator teaches students how to work efficiently and effectively in a space often crowded with equipment, patients and emergency responders, Blevins said.

As students practice in the simulator, their classmates can watch them and provide feedback.

“The students become teachers,” Blevins said.

Before the simulator was installed, students occasionally had opportunities to practice in real ambulances. 

With the simulator, students can practice those skills anytime, instructor Mark Bodine said.

Bodine said he sometimes dims the lights, allowing students to better understand what it’s like to work in an ambulance at night. 

He also plans to pipe in noise to teach students how to handle distractions. 

About all the simulator cannot do, he said, is replicate the motion of riding in an ambulance.

“It’s similar to a real ambulance,” paramedic student Caleb Tuell said. “It gets you comfortable working in tight quarters with multiple things going on.”

Paramedic student Miah Pavlik added, “The closer you can practice to reality, the easier it is to transition.”

Bodine described a real ambulance call as a “crazy ride.” Although the simulator may not perfectly replicate the real-life experience, it gives students a sense of the challenges.

“It can be an intense environment,” Blevins said. 

“You have adrenaline levels up, dealing with a bumpy road, traffic. While we can’t mimic everything in the field, the ambulance simulator allows us to put students through stressors and get them accustomed to that."