Memorial Community Hospital and Health System (MCH&HS) Respiratory Therapist Del McDonald inserted a tube down the patient's throat.
The patient was awake earlier and told McDonald and three other MCH&HS health professionals she felt fatigue shortness of breath and swelling in her ankles. But when her conditioned worsened, the insertion of the assistive breathing device became warranted.
This particular patient, though able to talk and display other realistic vital signs, was a mannequin. She was part of one of two respiratory distress situations MCH&HS staff navigated during specialized training with the University of Nebraska Medical Center's Simulation in Motion-Nebraska (SIM-NE) program.
The program situations are conducted in a more than 40-foot long truck that provides a variety of mobile and realistic training experiences aimed at enhancing life-saving skills for rural medical and emergency personnel.
"It's really hard to take staff out of an already understaffed area and make them go to a larger city to have access to this training, so that's why we're here," said C.J. Prewitt, the northeast regional coordinator for SIM-NE. "This is a safe, fun environment."
The other respiratory training scenario that nearly 10 groups of around four medical professionals encountered Monday was a young boy with a history of asthma who began having trouble breathing after playing in a dusty attic.
SIM-NE participants are only given the type of information that they might receive during a dispatch call in an ambulance or when the patient arrives at the hospital, such as a history of asthma or symptoms of shortness of breath and fatigue. They then must decide what medical decisions to make to help the patient.
"They'll get either their dispatch information if they're in the back on the ambulance side or we'll say, you're patient came into the ER and presented like this," Prewitt said. "That's what they get and then they do their assessments on it. We're really focused on training how we treat."
The mannequins the participants treat generally react similarly to real human patients. They carry pulses, have eyes that respond to light and make lung and heart beat sounds. Vital signs also respond to decisions medical personnel make.
Prewitt said medical professionals trained on unresponsive mannequins for many years, when vitals were told to trainees rather than them actually checking the patient.
"That's not how we treat patients," Prewitt said. "We literally touch the patient and physically assess the patient, and that's how we're trying to get them to train now."