FAIRFIELD — When Jake Heart was brought to the hospital, he was struggling to breathe, had a barking cough, swollen ankles and complained of being tired.

Paramedics relayed Heart’s vital signs and condition to nurses and respiratory therapists and they got to work — talking with Heart, starting an intravenous drip, monitoring his blood pressure and listening to his lungs.

Then they got a round of applause.

The students Tuesday were treating Heart — a $30,000 anatomically correct mannequin who breathes, blinks, bleeds, sweats, talks, has bodily functions and can have seizures — during the unveiling of Kennebec Valley Community College’s health-care simulation laboratory in Bernard A. King Hall.

The four-bed lab which resembles a hospital room was designed to serve the college’s nursing and allied health departments, which include more than a dozen health-care programs.

Instructors manipulate Heart, a medical mannequin, from a computer in a control room. Instructors view the lab and students through five one-way windows.

“It’s such a powerful educational tool,” said Marcia Parker, director of nursing at the college.

Parker compared the lessons the students learn in the simulated health lab with the experience of American Airlines pilot Chesley Sullenberger, who brought down a plane safely in the Hudson River in 2009 after its engines failed. Sullenberger’s expertize was honed through hours of training in flight simulation labs.

“This is a safe place for students to learn and interact and become confident in the competent, compassionate care of patients. Students are going to do amazing things with patients in central Maine because of this lab.”

Ally Moore, a senior nursing student, said while Tuesday’s demonstration had been practiced, that students enter most scenarios “cold” and that instructors throw unexpected, real world situations at them.

She said once her mannequin was manipulated to fall out of bed.

All of the surprises are fine with Moore.

Moore, an emergency medical technician and firefighter from Oakland, said she gets an adrenaline rush in high-pressure situations.

“This is very close to real,” Moore said. After she graduates she would like to work in a hospital emergency room.

Ric Lewis, a senior in the respiratory program, said he appreciates that any medical scenario can be duplicated with the human-like mannequins.

Evie Hirschfelt, associate nursing professor at the college, was struck by the potential of medical mannequins more than five years ago when she attended a conference.

College President Barbara Woodlee said Hirschfelt, who led the charge for the college to get its first medical mannequin, was also a driving force behind bringing the simulated lab to campus.

“We call this Evie’s Passion,” Woodlee said of the green, orange and yellow lab, which is formally named the TD Simulation Lab.

The state-of-the-art lab was made financially possible with a $100,000 donation from TD Charitable Foundation, the philanthropic branch of TD Bank.

“It feels right to be giving this gift to the community on Valentine’s Day,” said Larry Wold, market president for TD Bank.

In addition to Heart, the lab has a mannequin that simulates an elderly person. Tuesday it had a broken left leg set with a red cast. A pediatric junior mannequin was lying in bed holding a teddy bear.

Brian Chamberlin, on-site clinical coordinator and EMS licensing programmer at the college, said the lab will continue to be developed. Future plans, he said, include getting a birthing mannequin and hiring a coordinater.

Audio and video equipment that would help critical debriefing after scenarios is being discussed, as is expanding access to the lab to help train police, fire and rescue units.

“This will take (health care) education to the next level,” Woodlee said.

Beth Staples — 861-9252

[email protected]


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