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Supermodels help train WNC first responders

Southwestern Community College's new Health Sciences Simulation Lab has only been running since March, but it's students are benefiting greatly from the program's supermodels or manikins. (photo credit: WLOS staff)

A local college is getting a little extra help in training mountain first responders and nurses.

Southwestern Community College's new Health Sciences Simulation Lab has only been running since March, but it's students are benefiting greatly from the program's supermodels or manikins.

In medical simulation, a manikin is a patient simulator that allows students to practice a range of clinical skills-- from inserting an IV to working a mock code to dealing with a mass-casualty incident.

"I think the manikins help us learn more about our program because they allow us to practice different skills and scenarios that we might not get to do in clinicals," EMS student Stormy Schweinler said.

SCC president Dr. Don Tomas said the training will help students be the "best qualified and the best trained" when they go out into the field.

"They will be working with your family, my family, and we know, and rest assured that they are, the best trained and best qualified," Tomas said.

Nursing student Debra Cumbie experienced a code blue and was able to perform CPR on a manikin.

"I never have had to utilize these skills in real life, but it's great to have the opportunity to learn. So, if it ever does happen, I'm confident about that," she said.

SCC nursing program coordinator Wendy Connell said the manikins don't just help the students, they also help instructors.

"With the simulation lab, they can put in (gastrostomy tubes), they can start IVs, they can put a catheter in, so we can really make sure that they all have good skill techniques when they graduate."

SCC EMS program coordinator Eric Hester said the manikins make a huge huge difference.

"They are high-fidelity manikins, so they are very responsive. They are computer driven. The big benefit is, whenever we do lectures over various components, we can go direct, basically bring the students in and they can see it hands on."

EMS student Kimberly Mason said the manikins are like real people.

"So, we actually get to see what happens when we push medications or cardiovert people," Mason said.

"They were very lifelike and functional. We were actually able to do skills on them," SCC nursing student Adam Barker said.

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