Manikin mimics health problems

Wednesday, August 3, 2011
EMT Annette Darling listens to the "heartbeat" of the CPArlene manikin. The manikin can produce 12 different heart sounds and 16 different lung sounds to train emergency responders for trauma calls. The manikin was purchased by the Holiday Island Fire Department as part of a $10,000 grant from tobacco taxes, disbursed by Arkansas Trauma Systems.

HOLIDAY ISLAND -- "It beats sitting in a classroom and watching a video," said Holiday Island Fire Department Captain Bob Clave, referring to the remote-controlled trauma training manikin.

That's because "CPArlene" literally does beat -- the manikin has heart and lung sounds that can be changed by remote control to teach Emergency Medical Responders (EMRs) how to tell what's going on with someone's heart and breathing in an emergency.

Fire Chief Jack Deaton said he received a $10,000 grant dedicated toward equipment and training for trauma situations. The money came from Arkansas Trauma Systems and was made available from taxes on tobacco.

The manikin cost $6,000, and the other $4,000 was used to buy trauma supplies, a basic field hospital and a PowerPoint projector.

The manikin (which looks more like an "Arnie" than an "Arlene") can produce several types of heart sounds of someone having a heart attack, atrial fibrillation and lung sounds of someone having difficulty breathing, including asthma.

It can do 12 different heart sounds and 16 different lung sounds.

Several colored dots on the chest and upper abdomen represent the places on a human body where an EMR would listen through a stethoscope. The sounds at each location are controlled by a remote device.

Is it realistic?

"It's a little too loud or animated, but it's a good representation of what you might hear," Clave said.

"The blood pressure really sounds realistic," said EMT Annette Darling.

"You can adjust the volume to make the responder have to really listen for it," Clave said. "It's great training and a great learning tool."

The manikin also offers training in areas that are beyond what an EMR is legally allowed to do.

The trainer can put "blood" into the veins in the manikin's arm for teaching how to find a vein for IV insertion.

This is normally done by a paramedic, but in a situation where help is needed, an EMT could do it under supervision.

The manikin can even be shocked with an Automatic External Defibrillator.

It can also be monitored on the Lifepack machines carried by the fire department and ambulance service.

This manikin could be used for CPR training if needed, but there are other manikins for that, Clave said.

He said the manikin will be a great addition to training during the winter months when trauma classes cannot be held outdoors.

Deaton said the manikin will be available for use by all local departments to train with.

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