Mahaska Health, University of Iowa offer high-tech training for local first responders

Feb. 27—OSKALOOSA — First responders serving Mahaska County and the local area brushed up on their emergency medical skills Friday morning with the help of a team of instructors and specialized equipment from the University of Iowa.

"Part of our trauma certification requires that we provide some education, not just to our hospital first responder staff, but also to local community first responders," said Mahaska Health Education Coordinator Michelle Williams. "Doing some research to try to find things to do for that, I stumbled upon University of Iowa's website for Simulation Iowa and some videos to see kind of what that was, and reached out to them and said 'How do we bring this to Mahaska County?'"

Simulation in Motion-Iowa (SIM-IA) is a mobile lab that provides on-hand training for various emergency medical scenarios using mobile simulation trucks that recreate health scenarios in mock-up versions of the back of an ambulance. Trainees can then work through medical scenarios with instructors on hand to guide them as they tackle medical emergencies they might one day be faced with in real life.

First responders from Mahaska Health, the Mahaska County Sheriff's Department, the Oskaloosa Police Department and the Oskaloosa Fire Department participated in the training during the roughly four hours one of the simulation trucks spent parked in Mahaska Health's parking lot.

"It's a very high-tech simulated training environment," said Zack Myers, of the Oskaloosa Fire Department. "You've got two different bays you can utilize. One simulates an ambulance, like the back of an ambulance, and then the other simulates an emergency room. So it's nice to get the two different environments that we may see ourselves in as EMTs."

"They can create so many different scenarios with the mannequins they have, because those mannequins are very high tech," Myers added. "They're not just your simple CPR mannequins that you breathe into. These ones you can see the pupils dilate. You can get a pulse, and some of them, you can hear lung sounds. You can hear abdominal noises. All sorts of stuff. And you can practice with the different skills and stuff that we do, as far as adjuncts like controlling airways, securing airways, suctioning. They even have ones that you can perform [tracheostomies] on."

Myers says training opportunities like the one provided Friday through SIM-IA and Mahaska Health are "invaluable."

"Any training that we can get is extremely valuable, especially since most of [Osky Fire's EMTs] are fairly new EMTs. We don't have a whole lot of experience in the medical field, so any as close to real life training experience that we can get is incredibly useful and incredibly wanted."

Channing Rucks can be reached at