JANESVILLE — The alarm sounds. A man has been stabbed in the nursing home and is bleeding to death. Fortunately, help is on the way.
An ambulance arrives, the gurney is wheeled in and the suffering man is stabilized.
Did emergency medical technicians save the man?
No, they were students at Blackhawk Technical College (BTC) performing lifelike drills with the latest technologies. Thanks to BTC’s $8.7 million investment in renovations to the Health Science Division, medical mannequins and video technology, students are getting prepared for real-world challenges in medical and public safety careers.
Although BTC always had a Health Science Division, it moved to 50,000-square-feet of newly renovated space at the lower level of the main campus building in August. Previously, the space housed BTC’s manufacturing programs. Those programs moved to the Advanced Manufacturing Training Center in Milton, according to BTC Marketing and Communications Manager Gary Kohn.
With double the space in the Health Science Division, the newly renovated area consists of hospital simulation rooms, faux assisted living wings and more. The space also features six operatories, or spaces designed to imitate dental treatment rooms, as well as realistic waiting rooms for dental and medical assistants. BTC’s Pharmacy Tech classroom features a pharmacy style training room and equipment.
Kohn said students studying nursing, diagnostic medical sonography, radiography or those preparing to become a dental, medical or nursing assistant, or pharmacy technician, are all benefitting from the lifelike drills.
With the new layout, for example, an ambulance can pull up to the school. EMTs-to-be can then unload a gurney, rush it down the hall and load up a medical mannequin or patient simulator for transport. Students can then push the gurney down a hall, similar to a hospital corridor, and give necessary information to nursing students waiting in the hospital simulation room.
Other practice scenarios for students could be a man sick with pneumonia or a nursing home patient having an adverse reaction to his medication.
The BTC patient simulators — a pregnant woman, an adult male, an infant and a 6-year-old child — can be controlled by seasoned instructors. They adjust their breathing rates, pulse and blood pressure so students can learn how to identify health needs and address them.
Students can use the pregnant mannequin named Lucinda, for example, to check fetal heart rates. Once Lucinda goes into labor, she can have contractions and give birth, complete with lifelike moans.
“She gives birth and the baby comes out and cries,” said BTC Simulation Specialist Matt Picard.
“She talks and can make facial expressions,” Kohn added.
One of the drill’s benefits are the opportunities for cross training. Police and fire science students can do the drills and EMT students can train alongside nursing or radiography students.
“We can all interact as if we are in a real hospital,” Picard said.
The most important part of the drills is debriefing, according to Dawn Blanton, healthcare simulation specialist.
Blanton explained how students performing drills are being recorded. Once the drill is complete the students and instructors can comb through student responses for any errors or areas for improvement.
One of the other technologies is the 3D human anatomy visualization system by Anatomage, known to students as a virtual cadaver. Via the table-sized computer screen, instructors manipulate the body and study it from different angles.
Blanton said the images in the device represent a real cadaver donated to science by a man who died of cancer in Korea. Scientists photographed each layer of his body and students can see it via the tabletop screen and accompanying wall-mounted computer.
The device and its software allows students to see a variety of potential wounds and how they would affect different layers of the body. Student can also practice doing a virtual autopsy.
For students, BTC’s technologies help them obtain more experience before entering their respective fields. It also keeps them engaged.
“Everything we are doing is hands-on, and I learn much faster,” said EMT student Shannon Brumm.
EMT student Leonardo Mondragon said the drills help him learn teamwork and how to manage patients with life-threatening injuries.
EMT student Jude Redenbaugh added that he helped a mannequin deliver a baby and saved another patient simulator after a suicide attempt.
“They make it as lifelike as possible,” Redenbaugh said.
Kohn said students benefit from technologies which push the boundaries of education.
“We have a state-of-the-art department featuring some of the best technology in the state,” Kohn said. “It’s important for people in the area and prospective students to understand this kind of facility is right in their backyard. It exists in our marketplace and comes with the BTC tuition, (which is) much lower than many other educational institutions.”
Kohn said BTC’s renovated Health Sciences Division is also a great benefit for the health providers in the area as their employees will be better trained.
“We are a talent pipeline,” Kohn said.