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ambulance simulator gives paramedics real-life experience

Riding in the back of an ambulance is somewhere we hope to never be, but if it does happen we like to know we are in the best hands possible. 

This is why Roane State Community College is preparing their EMT students with a real-life approach, an ambulance simulator.

"It allows them to function in a more realistic environment, so it will be less of a distraction when they are out there functioning in the field," said paramedic instructor Mark Bodine.

It looks like a small box from the outside, but go through the door and you've stepped in the high-intensity atmosphere of an ambulance. 

"This has allowed us to ratchet up the simulation and stress levels from what they have had in the past," Bodine said.

With all the bells and whistles of a real ambulance, even a life-like patient,  this simulator replicates what is seen on the roads.

"Having them in this small box and having to reach for objects and not look at them, learning where they monitors going to be placed, become familiar with how things are laid out before they get out there and are working with an involved call," Bodine said.

Students act out different scenarios with a special mannequin. They perform CPR, inject IVs and call into the hospital through a radio. They also learn to block out all distractions and maneuver the tiny space.

"It's putting them through all the problems before they actually go out and see the patients," said director of EMS courses David Blevins.

The authentic approach creates an easier transition for what the students will encounter once outside the classroom.

"I hope they will gain some confidence, gain some experience," Bodine said. "Ehe more we can practice and drill, the more prepared and better they will be."

The ambulance simulator costs about $30,000. Roane State applied for a grant that allowed them to buy the equipment. 

Roane State is the first and only community college in East Tennessee to have it.

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