A group of brave souls are preparing to leap into the icy water of Lake Catamount later this month, in an effort to raise funds toward the purchase of innovative emergency-medical-training equipment.
Presumably, emergency room physicians will be on hand at noon March 20 when as many as 100 people line up on the ice for the inaugural Penguin Plunge, hosted by the Health Care Foundation of the Yampa Valley. A group of volunteers who are willing to take the plunge are raising pledges for the purchase of a "human patient simulator" (HPS) that would be used to train nurses, physicians, emergency medical technicians and the Yampa Valley Air Ambulance crews.
The Human Patient Simulator is a sophisticated mannequin backed up by a computer and software that can run a wide range of scenarios covering medical emergencies.
"It's like Resusci-Annie used to teach CPR, only exponentially cooler and more detailed," foundation spokeswoman Bonnie Boylan said.
The advantage of the HPS as a training device is that it reacts to the techniques and medicines administered by the health care professional involved in the training.
Dave Linner, a registered nurse and director of Yampa Valley Air Ambulance Service, said an analogy can be drawn between the HPS and the flight simulators used by pilots.
"The medical field has begun to use patient simulators to get the same information and training that pilots get from flight simulators," Linner said.
For example, the simulator can be programmed to model a patient experiencing anaphylactic shock after an insect sting. It can be set up to model the responses of a 70-year-old woman or a 7-year-old girl.
The condition of the patient will dictate that emergency responders administer the correct amount of medicine in a timely manner. If they fail, the throat of the simulator will begin to constrict, dictating a tracheal tube. If the care providers are slow in taking that step, they will need to adapt quickly.
The HPS costs about $50,000, but the capability of training local emergency care providers repeatedly on many scenarios is invaluable Linner said.
People interested in the Penguin Plunge may call Boylan at 871-2501.