By Ms. Sarah Maxwell (RDECOM)December 1, 2010
Medical simulation technologies are being developed to give medics and combat lifesavers more realistic training that could result in lives saved on the battlefield.
The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's (RDEC) Simulation and Training Technology Center (STTC) showcased multiple prototype technologies at the world's largest modeling, simulation and training conference held in Orlando from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2.
One of those promising training tools is the HemSim, which is a training simulator to teach medical Soldiers how to stop hemorrhages in wounds where tourniquets can't be used, said Dr. Teresita Sotomayor, science and technology manager at STTC's medical simulation technologies program.
Tourniquet training has been an integral part of basic Soldier lifesaving skills by preventing or stopping hemorrhaging, or excess bleeding, which many times prevents death. But tourniquets can only be applied to wounds on legs and arms, she said.
"Now we need to focus on non-extremity wounds," she added.
Sotomayer, along with the help of a private industry partner and Soldiers' input, is developing a capability to simulate body wounds as well as the hemostatic, or blood clotting, agents medics use on the battlefield.
The HemSim, if fully researched, developed and employed, will be the first simulation tool available for medic warriors to practice on before heading to the battlefield. Its realistic looking wounds will have the ability to be worn by a person or a dummy and would simulate the hemorrhage bleeding medics need to know how to stop.
"I would love something like this," said Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer Jordan, a medical trainer from Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., whose expertise is being harnessed to help guide the project in the right direction.
As an educator for Soldiers with no medical training all the way to the highly skilled combat medic, she said this type of simulation could benefit all of their preparation to employ their skills in a combat situation.
"We try to make the (medical training) dynamic, we want them stressed," said Jordan. "Any emotional response we can elicit from students, they'll remember it better."
She and her students' input helped take the realism of the simulation to another level with the ability to actually warm the fake blood used in the prototype, which allows the medics in training to make that "emotional" connection to real blood, said Jordan.
Not only is the prospect of using such advanced training tools to teach with exciting for Jordan, but so is the ability to actually be able to give input for something that could really make a difference down the road.
"The relationship we have with RDECOM is brilliant," said Jordan. "They want feedback and are taking it from all levels."
"It will allow us to give a better product to our students to make a difference where it matters, not just for students but for the guy who's out there bleeding," she added.