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UI attains grant for simulators to help rural first responders

IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa has landed an $8 million grant to purchase three semi-sized simulators that will help Iowa’s rural first responders and community hospital staffs brush up on emergency medicine.

Cormac O’Sullivan, a U-I nursing professor, says each of the three simulators will be equipped with a mock-up ambulance cab and an emergency room.

“We’re going to provide simulation-based education with very lifelike mannequins for anything and everything that providers would need education on,” O’Sullivan says. “We’re hoping to focus on crisis events that are very rare but when they do occur, could potentially have a very bad outcome.”

Teams from the U-I will work with the rural Iowa crews on medical procedures and in situations they don’t often encounter in sparsely-populated areas. “We can do car wrecks, we can do massive hemorrhage, we can do unexpected deliveries,” O’Sullivan says. “We have visited a couple of small community hospitals and they all were interested in pediatric emergencies because they don’t get to see a lot of that, thankfully. We can also simulate a crisis event like an emerging infectious disease such as COVID.”

The grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to the U-I College of Nursing will allow O’Sullivan and other health care professionals from Iowa City to offer valuable hands-on experience to rural agencies in their own backyards for those seldom-seen situations.

“We hope that we can hit every single county in the state of Iowa annually with the three vehicles,” O’Sullivan says. “We would like to do as much simulation as possible. If we show up and people from the county next-door want to come over and participate in the education, they’re welcome to do it. We’re not going to limit it like that, so, we want to get to every county at least once a year.”

O’Sullivan is co-director of the U-I’s Simulation in Motion program. The first of the three vehicles is expected to be delivered in the spring of 2022, with the other two arriving that summer.

(Photos courtesy of the Helmsley Charitable Trust)

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