New simulators provide realistic training for medical personnel

As Capt. Drew Baird handled the controls guiding a scope through a computerized patient's colon, he knew when he had pushed a little too hard.

The patient groaned, alerting Capt. Baird to his discomfort.

"Sometimes you will have to stop," said Lt. Col. Mike Friedman, who was instructing Capt. Baird on use of the new machine.

In its new Medical Simulation Training Center, Fort Gordon's Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center has a battery of new tools to help medical residents practice their skills in a virtual world.

"It gives residents the opportunity to train in a pretty real environment," said Lt. Col. Yong Choi, the simulation center's medical director.

There are several systems within the center. Some focus on a small part of the body. They include an area for residents to work on sewing skills; an arm on which they can practice inserting IVs; and a sample of a breast for sonographers to use to identify cysts and tumors.

Then there are more complicated systems, such as the "sim man," a mannequin with a computer brain that can react to any situation.

While a resident works on the simulator, which can speak and relay how it is feeling, another medical staff member operates the computer.

According to Col. Karla Hansen, the hospital's medical education director, if things are going too smoothly, the computer can be programmed to cause the patient to have an emergency, such as an allergic reaction to medication or cardiac arrest.

In the teaching situation, the resident can explore options without risking a person's life.

The simulation training center opened earlier this year, and an open house was held last month.

Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at charmain.brackett@augustachronicle.com.

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