Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Advanced Simulator Lab

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

You wouldn't want to be Dee, Fritz or Eric.

Last week, Dee was having a heart attack. Fritz was getting a tube snaked down his throat. And Eric, with no pulse or blood pressure, had been left for dead.

Earlier in the day, it was even worse. They had been treated for injuries caused by a small nuclear explosion.

Strapped to gurneys in a virtual emergency room at Burlington County College's Mount Laurel campus, Dee, Fritz and Eric are human patient simulators - computerized mannequins that appear to breathe, bleed, blink and urinate.

The mannequins, which cost from $20,000 to $300,000 each, can be programmed to appear to be suffering from any of more than 100 afflictions or injuries.

The college's Simulation Center has 14 of them, more than any institution outside the military, said Charles Grayson, the center's manager.

The center is only a small part of the college's Center for Public Health Preparedness, which is funded by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and has become a regional draw for hands-on emergency instruction.

Since the center opened in September, more than 2,000 nurses, firefighters, and other emergency personnel have trained there.

The mannequins can be programmed to be drug addicts, burn victims, or casualties of a nerve-gas attack. Their bowels rumble. They can be made to speak. They have a pulse just where you'd expect to find one.

Their faces bear an uncanny resemblance to the old Resusci Annes used for CPR training. But the similarity ends there. Compared with these mannequins, Anne is an old windbag. These fellows - they all resemble middle-age white men - have more in common with the humanoid robot Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Inside each is a tangle of wires, computer chips, hydraulics and pneumatics.


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