Last month you may have seen what looked like an ordinary semi-trailer truck sitting in the parking lot at Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital. But it was not your ordinary delivery truck. It was a mobile training center with over a million dollars’ worth of equipment inside.
Inside the trailer, nurses receive training in critical care procedures used in such things as pediatric trauma cases, neonatal opiate addicted babies, and cardiac emergency care. The simulated patients that they work on are not just plastic dummies, they are state of the art “simulated humans.” You can put your finger on their neck and feel their pulse. You can watch the baby’s chest rise and fall with each breath. You can take its temperature or monitor its heart rate or blood pressure. You can administer medications and watch the results on your monitoring equipment. You can even talk to the babies and they can talk back. They can cry and laugh. As Chief Nursing Officer Kathy Padilla put it, they are “freakishly alive.”
The training that day involved an infant born with a heart problem. But the mobile lab comes with a whole family. The baby has a mother and father and brother and sister as well. The mother simulates pregnancy and can give birth.
The truck houses a standard operating room where nurses, certified nurse assistants and emergency medical technicians get valuable hands on experience handling traumatic situations. The operating room is wired with cameras and the practice sessions are recorded and watched live from an adjoining room. Afterwards the recordings are reviewed and analyzed by the whole team.
According to Brodie Verworn from Best Practices who manages the training, the Montana Mobile Simulation Lab and Cardiac Simulators was designed and equipped with a grant from the Centers for Disease Control that is administered through the state and its visits to Montana’s hospitals are also grant funded. The visit to Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital was made possible with assistance from St. Patrick’s Cardiology Nurse Leaders and Community Medical Center’s nursing grant.
Jen Bush, Critical Care Director at Marcus Daly, said that it is only through this kind of cooperation and connection that hospitals in the state have this kind of opportunity. She said the mobile lab was a very important training asset because it gives the nurses hands-on training which activates their motor memory in ways that ordinary classroom training cannot.