Sim Man saves lives on battlefield
July 6, 2011
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany, July 6, 2011 -- Spc. Matthew Primo, with the Medical Simulation Training Center, lies in a pool of blood, with a gunshot wound in the chest and an open femur fracture, waiting for his comrades to come and save his life.
Primo is one of 20 human patient simulation mannequins at the Medical Simulation Training Center, or MSTC. The mannequins look real. They breathe, blink, talk, and live or die depending how effectively their caregivers treat their wounds.
Being controlled by computer, the Specialist’s vitals and injuries are documented so the instructors can monitor if the training Soldiers are performing the proper treatment. As a Soldier performs the tasks, Primo reacts just as a human casualty would react.
Offered by the Joint Multinational Training Command, or JMTC, the MSTC is the regional training site for Combat Lifesaving, or CLS, in Europe for U.S. and NATO troops fighting in coalition operations.
The MSTC takes the CLS training to a new level with advanced technology and dedicated instructors, like Primo, to simulate real-life situations troops will encounter downrange.
“If the Soldier does the right treatment, at the right time, the mannequin lives. If the Soldier doesn’t we can reset them, show them what they did right and what they did wrong to get them very confident here,” says William Goodwin, a former combat medic and certified instructor trainer with MSTC.
Primo goes above the call of duty, on a daily basis, by allowing himself to be wounded and even pronounced dead to teach his fellow Soldiers how to react to a medical emergency during combat through the simulation training at Grafenwoehr Training Area, or GTA, in Germany.
The simulation occurs after a three-day class on the proper procedures for treating injuries commonly seen on the battlefield. Then the trainees are placed in a mass casualty situation, simulating a direct fire engagement. It begins as soon as Primo is injured. The clock ticks away on Primo’s golden hour, a crucial time for treatment.
Combat sounds, low visibility with fog, strobe lights in the dark, and synthetic blood are added to create a stressful, realistic setting, which replicates today’s combat zone. These Soldiers have no time to panic. If this simulation was downrange it would be their comrade lying in Primo’s spot.
Instructors apply stressors, and watch and evaluate the treatment of the casualty.
“In the battlefield you are going to be under stress when you’re applying this stuff, so you need to learn it,” says Goodwin.
“Putting us through the worse scenario possible is good, because now I am actually a little bit prepared if something happens downrange, on post, really anywhere,” said Spc. Michael B. Navarro, with the 509 Signal Company stationed in Italy. He is one the Soldiers fortunate enough to experience this training the JMTC has prepared for his unit.
Primo, the unsung hero at GTA, is a dedicated Soldier, who risks his life daily, so comrades can learn to react while under stress. In a dark, foggy room filled with blood, the sounds of guns shots and pain, Primo a waits to be saved by the next Soldier in training. Without Primo’s ability to simulate wounds, combat lifesavers, like Navarro, would not be able to demonstrate the material taught in the CLS class.
“(There is a) big difference between just studying a book to memorize answers and actually going out in the field,” says Navarro. “I think it should be mandatory for all Soldiers.”
Navarro’s newly acquired skills helped save Primo’s life.