Fire departments' new training manikin is no dummy

In a car accident, a victim might be injured by the impact. Or experience trauma after the crash. Or even go into cardiac arrest.

The last scenario might be rare, but it's the kind of situation that firefighters have to handle, Palatine Fire Department Lt. Marc Campise said Tuesday.

To be ready for those kinds of high-risk, low-frequency events, Campise's department, along with the Palatine Rural Fire Protection District and Rolling Meadows Fire Department, is training on a new, high-tech simulation manikin.

The anatomically realistic manikin gives trainees an indication of blood pressure, a pulse, breath and the ability to make lifelike noises.

A simulation pad allows a controller to adjust conditions and responses, as well as the age and health of the "patient." A larger screen displays vitals, blood pressure, pulse and an EKG.

"This will let us practice like we play," Campise said.

Purchased in December for $12,000, the manikin joins CPR assistance devices and video laryngoscopes as new technologies recently adopted by the Northwest suburban fire departments.

"Innovation, whatever the price, is worth it," Campise said.

Training can now be better standardized for firefighters, which will quicken and streamline the process, simulation coordinator and Palatine firefighter Andrew Milewski said.

"We can make it do things just like a patient would do," Susan Wood, an educator at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, added. "Say they forget a medication - the simulation will get worse. It really does respond based on what the (first responders) are doing."

The adoption of the new technology will add to firefighters' ability to train for different medical responses.

"It gets our hands on more," Milewski said. "We can't practice on real people."

After each use, a survey will be created for trainees. Their answers will better streamline the manikin's use.

"This type of simulation is in its infancy," Milewski said. "We're trying to get out in front of it."

  Palatine Fire Department Lt. Marc Campise and Firefighter/Paramedic Andrew Milewski show off the department's new, high-tech training manikin on Tuesday. The manikin can be adjusted to present trainees with a variety of situations. Mark Welsh/
  Palatine Rural Fire Protection District Lt. Roger Fyke performs chest compressions Tuesday as other first responders from Palatine and Rolling Meadows fire departments work on a new training manikin. Mark Welsh/
  Palatine and Rolling Meadows fire department first responders work on their new training manikin Tuesday. Mark Welsh/
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