Down and dirty medical simulation
July 11, 2007
U.S. Army Simulation and Training Technology Center
ORLANDO, Fla. - Ready at a moment's notice, Army combat medics serving in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom perform in high-intensity life or death situations at a moment's notice. To aid in training, the Research, Development and Engineering Command's Simulation and Training Technology Center developed the Stand Alone Patient Simulator.
The SAPS is a rugged, full body patient simulator that is physiologically based and completely wireless, enabling Soldiers to move their patients and truly train as they fight. This is the first time a breathing patient simulator has been able to be carried without wires and ancillary equipment throughout a simulated combat environment.
In the past, Army medics have been training for upcoming deployments with high-tech patient simulators that realistically replicate a vast array of conditions including trauma, weapons of mass destruction injuries and disease non-battle injuries.
While this technology has proven to be extremely valuable for training, it requires a dedicated space, multiple canisters of gases and the mannequins used were too fragile to be used effectively in the field.
The SAPS durable, rugged nature allows Soldiers to extricate a simulated patient from difficult terrain, buildings and vehicles while assessing and treating the patient's condition. The STTC is currently developing and evaluating the SAPS to enhance and prepare combat medics for their missions.
The SAPS was developed under a three-year Army technology objective in partnership with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. It blends physiologically accurate injuries, sensor technologies, miniaturization/packaging technology and wireless networking technologies with state-of-the-art patient simulations technologies. The SAPS was designed specifically to meet Army training needs.
The simulation provides medical educators and instructors with a capability to objectively evaluate student performance through the implementation of valid, accurate and repeatable medical simulations that eliminate subjective influences from simulation outcomes and from assessments of student performance. The SAPS can be used both for proficiency and competency-based training.
The STTC conducted the first user test with the SAPS in a simulated combat environment at the Medical Simulation Training Center in Fort Lewis, Wash. Combat lifesavers and combat medics used the SAPS during the field exercise of their training respective courses. Trainees had to assess, stabilize, treat and evacuate their patient from initial injury, during care under fire, through tactical field care, and at the battalion aid station.
The capability to train using the same high fidelity patient through multiple levels of care has not existed before. Learning, enhancing and maintaining medical skills with these simulations will undoubtedly result in a decrease of death due to wounds. Trainees were very receptive to the new technology.
"I had to reassess throughout the lane just like a real patient," said one Soldier about the SAPS. "[I was] never able to do that before."
The STTC uses these operational user evaluations to test the design concept and early prototypes.
"The Warfighters are our ultimate customer and we must be diligent to ensure that we meet their needs," said Jack Norfleet, lead science and technology manager for Medical Simulations.
"You have to pay attention to how you apply bandages [on the SAPS]," said another trainee about the first prototype. "The other sims lets anything stick immediately. [The SAPS is] more realistic by not letting bandages stick right away."
Throughout the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2007 and first quarter of fiscal year 2008, the STTC will be conducting more user tests with other MSTC sites and combat units. Captured data will refine the design and transition the end prototype to the MSTC acquisition program at the Program Executive Office, Simulation, Training and Instrumentation.