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NORMAL — Area emergency medical service students have a new resource for training that is as close to the real thing as they can get: a converted ambulance.

A former Dewitt County Emergency Medical Services ambulance has been modified into a full-featured mobile simulation unit the McLean County Area EMS System has added to its educational offerings.

"The mobile simulation unit enables students to learn and practice with a sense of realism,” said EMS system Manager Travis Wilson. “Students learn how to work in tight quarters and gain a comfort level of performing emergency medical skills in the back of an ambulance.”

An expensive engine failure in the ambulance a few months ago led to the rig being replaced. Instead of being scrapped, it was donated to the EMS system.

The original engine and cab were removed and the chassis was converted into a trailer with a hitch by Dan’s Welding in Clinton.

Once it was roadworthy, the simulator was moved to SirenWorld, an emergency vehicle equipment company in El Paso, where it underwent a electrical system overhaul to allow the equipment to run on AC power from a generator.

The companies provided their services at no charge to the EMS system.

The mobile simulation unit will be primarily used for emergency medical technician and paramedic classes at Heartland Community College.

The unit will be on display during an open house from 9 to 11 a.m. Friday at Heartland's Parking Lot N (the first parking lot on the left off of Millennium Boulevard).

“It is exactly like a real ambulance; it just does not drive down the road,” said Wilson. “There is a cot, backboards, splints, bandaging supplies, IV supplies, oxygen and airway supplies, simulated medications, and a state-of-the-art patient simulator."

The unit allows students to train on a wide variety of scenarios such as loading and unloading patients and caring for patients headed to the hospital, all in the confines of an actual ambulance setting.

“The simulator really enhances the hands-on part of EMT training,” said EMS system Education Coordinator Jonathan Dassow. “Only so much can be taught in a classroom. In the simulator, students will learn how to provide emergency medical care in as realistic of an environment as possible.”

The McLean County Area EMS System, a joint venture of Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal and OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center, Bloomington, provides resources to emergency medical services throughout the area.

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Bloomington Reporter

Bloomington reporter for The Pantagraph.

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