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Human patient simulator latest training tool at Penn State campus

Students in forestry and paramedics take part in forestry accident drill

April 28, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER
  • From left, paramedic students Troy Wagaman, Amy Martin and Eric Durham assess the condition of iStan, a hi-fidelity human patient simulator, in a wooded area near Penn State Mont Alto during a simulated forestry accident.
Yvette May, Staff Photographer

MONT ALTO, PA. -- A Mont Alto dummy will return to the classroom today thanks to area fire, rescue, forestry, nursing and emergency medical personnel who worked for nearly two hours Wednesday to save his fake life.

IStan, of Penn State Mont Alto, was in stable condition Wednesday after nearly dying in a simulated forestry accident.

Students in the Penn State Mont Alto Forest Technology program found iStan just off Pa. 233 in the Michaux State Forest bleeding from head and leg wounds.

Participants carefully moved the moaning, groaning, occasionally crashing dummy from the mountain to a Life Lion helicopter transport waiting in a nearby field.

IStan is the latest tool the campus uses to train students in patient care, said Carranda Barkdoll, campus coordinator of nursing.

A hi-fidelity human patient simulator, iStan is able to breathe, talk, bleed, move, vomit and "die" like a regular human being.

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"He is as close as we can get to treating a human without the risk that a mistake might end a life," said Barkdoll.

Fire and rescue personnel from Mont Alto, Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., Franklin County Communications, and Hershey, Pa. joined the students in forestry and paramedics to sharpen their skills for mountain rescue, said Barkdoll.

The drill was the first of its kind at the university, she said.

Because foresters face many dangerous situations, instructors felt it was necessary to teach students how to react if a member of their team was injured, said instructor Beth Brantley.

On Wednesday, iStan graciously played the victim of an all-too common accident, sustaining a severe head injury from a falling tree limb and a deep wound on his leg from a chain saw, she said.

The event might have been simulated, but for the students it felt very real.

"At times I forgot he was a dummy and not part of our crew," said Forest Technology freshman Mitch Oswald. "It was a very emotional situation."

"We learned more of what to do in the situation than what not to do," Forest Technology freshman Mike Trisket said. "It was very worthwhile."

For instructors, the drill provided invaluable feedback, said Brantley.

Learning that cell phones could fail even less than a mile from campus, Brantley and fellow instructor Craig Houghton determined it might be best to call 911 and alert the county when they are going out into the woods.

"Absolutely," Ben Rice, assistant communications manager for Franklin County said of the idea. "It can't hurt."

Paramedic students quickly discovered the need to have one leader on the scene of an accident.

"Sometimes the best thing you can do for the patient is to step back and let your leader lead," said pre-med student Seth Fuhrman. "There were times when you were talking to each other and not Stan. You have to keep talking to the patient, keep them alert."

A U.S. Army medic, Fuhrman provided a voice for iStan, moaning in pain or answering questions from paramedics, such as, "Stan are you with me?" or "How'ya doing Stan?"

It was touch and go with iStan, but the times he went into cardiac arrest were due mostly to a loss of the wireless signal controlling him, not to mistakes by students, said Barkdoll.

"All in all, I think this was very successful," she said.

Houghton was unsure if the university would repeat the drill, but both Trisket and Oswald were eager to see it become a regular part of their education.

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