Medical Training Program Gets $1.7 million

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(Host) Senator Patrick Leahy has helped Fletcher Allen hospital get $1.7 million to pay for advanced medical simulations.

As VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports, the money has helped train National Guard medics for their service in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(Doctor) "Heads up guys. Trauma patient coming.

(Doctor) "OK, we have a conscious, alert-times-three, male patient. Gunshot wound to the upper left arm. Significant bleeding."

(Sneyd) A trail of blood drips from the stretcher as a patient is rolled into a trauma room at Fletcher Allen. The red gunshot wound glistens on his upper arm.

(Sound of medical personnel working on patient)

(Sneyd) In the back of the room, Fletcher Allen staff and University of Vermont professors watch and evaluate the work – and a crew of reporters and photographers records it all.

(Evaluation concludes)

(Sneyd) This was a simulation, staged mostly for Senator Leahy and his wife, Marcelle. But it was also a demonstration of technology made possible by federal money.

Fletcher Allen has eight life-like mannequins that can be programmed to simulate everything from childbirth to life-threatening injuries. Fletcher Allen and UVM’s College of Medicine use them to teach future doctors and nurses how to quickly diagnose what’s wrong with a patient – and how to deal with unexpected complications.

With 1,500 members of the Vermont National Guard headed into a war zone in Afghanistan, the federal government was persuaded to expand the program.

(Ricci) "It’s good practice."

(Sneyd) Doctor Michael Ricci is a vascular surgeon at Fletcher Allen and a colonel in the Vermont Air National Guard. His deployment to Afghanistan next month will be his third.

Ricci suggested that National Guard medical staff should be trained using the mannequins, and he helped establish a partnership among UVM, Fletcher Allen and the Guard.

(Ricci) "I many years ago just had the idea – I wear many hats. I’m with the college of Medicine, obviously, I’ve been at Fletcher Allen and work in the hospital in vascular and trauma surgery and the Guard. So I kind of put it all together, I guess."

(Sneyd) Senator Leahy says the partnership is invaluable and he clearly enjoyed the demonstration.

At the end, he got a hands-on turn at the mannequin patient with Doctor Ricci.

(Ricci) "He has pulses in the carotid. Just put your finger right there. You’ll be able to feel his pulse."

(Marcelle Leahy) "You get it?"

(Patrick Leahy) "I’m not getting it."

(Ricci) "Do you want to help him out?"

(Patrick Leahy) "Go ahead, Marcelle."

(Marcelle Leahy) "I don’t know if I can. I’m used to doing this to humans."

(Sneyd) Marcelle Leahy proved herself worthy of her profession as a nurse. She found the pulse on the first try.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.

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