homepage logo

Emergency mobile simulation lab visits Cape

By Staff | Oct 21, 2009

Smallpox, botulism and the bubonic plague struck Cape Coral Tuesday — all part of a training exercise to help local fire and EMS crews learn how to deal with biological attacks.
The Emergency Medicine Learning and Resource Center’s mobile simulation lab brought together Cape fire and Lee County EMS personnel at the old public safety building, putting the first responders through intense drills to help them recognize uncommon afflictions that could be the result of terrorist attacks.
They worked to save the life of “Austin Powers,” a computer controlled dummy that was fighting for its life via simulation.
“We’ve done a poor job educating our first responders on the dangers of weapons of mass destruction in this country,” said Eric Dotten, clinical programs coordinator for the center. “They are going to be the early warning system for an event like that … their recognition of signs and symptoms will save plenty of lives.”
The “patient” was controlled by Dotten, who fed information to the emergency crews working to save its life.
The dummy was able to talk to the emergency workers via a set of speakers. It begged for pain medication, tried to communicate what was wrong with it, even passed gas as its bowels let loose.
The goal of the program was to challenge the emergency workers to “think outside of the box,” according to Dotten.
Being first on the scene in a possible biological warfare situation, emergency responders become something else entirely: they become the first line of defense.
“If one person infected with bubonic plague could infect another 65,000 people, imagine if we had 10 people infected,” Dotten said.
The mobile simulation lab travels all around Florida to offer the training. The bus, once owned by musicians Patti LaBelle and Greg Alman, serves as the Florida Department of Health’s classroom on wheels.
“There needs to be more of this type of education,” Dotten said.