How a high-tech mannequin is going to help Mundelein firefighters save lives

  • Mundelein firefighters use a computerized mannequin to simulate assisting a patient in cardiac arrest Monday at village hall.

      Mundelein firefighters use a computerized mannequin to simulate assisting a patient in cardiac arrest Monday at village hall. Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer

  • Mundelein firefighter-paramedic Brad Sashko, lower right, administers expired medication to a mannequin during a simulation at village hall on Monday.

      Mundelein firefighter-paramedic Brad Sashko, lower right, administers expired medication to a mannequin during a simulation at village hall on Monday. Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 6/25/2019 10:21 AM

Mundelein firefighters and paramedics are counting on a computerized mannequin to help them save people experiencing cardiac arrest.

Much more complex than a traditional CPR dummy, the department's MegaCode Kelly machine lets emergency personnel practice administering intravenous drugs and defibrillating hearts on a life-size subject, among other tasks. It even can be programmed to emit artificial breathing and bowel sounds, cough or wheeze.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The goal is to make this as realistic as possible," Deputy Fire Chief Darren Brents said.

MegaCode Kelly is manufactured by a Norwegian company called Laerdal. Mundelein Fire Chief Bill Lark believes his department is the first in Lake County to acquire one.

The department got the mannequin last year, but training didn't begin until about eight weeks ago because supplies needed for simulations, such as expired medication bottles and empty intravenous medication bags, had to be gathered, Brents said.

The mannequin cost about $13,000. Funding came from charitable donations and other sources.

Firefighters demonstrated how they use the mannequin before Monday's village board meeting at village hall. Trustees were impressed, even rooting for the rescue crews to save the mannequin before ending the simulation.

Every member of the department will be trained on MegaCode Kelly. Brents wants to expand its use to include other challenging medical emergencies, such as diabetic and allergic crises. He hopes to purchase a pediatric version of the mannequin soon, too.

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The mannequin is an element of a greater departmental plan to better address cardiac emergencies. The American Heart Association says more than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside a hospital setting annually in the U.S.

As part of the effort, the department is implementing a team-treatment method Brents called "the pit crew model."

In this approach, each member of a response team has a specific role, such as administering drugs or performing chest compressions.

"(If) you limit your focus, you limit what can go wrong," Brents said. "The goal is to control the chaos as best we can."

Brents created the response method years ago while he was with the Palatine Fire Department, after the cardiac-related death of a family member.

Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights now teaches the method to the paramedics in its system, Brents said, and departments across the country use it, too.

"The model works," he said.

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