“Darcy, if you’ll hold him, I’ll make him come alive.”
With a few taps on a tablet computer, the child-sized test dummy named John snapped to life in Darcy’s arms. He blinked his brilliant blue eyes and breathed with a slight wheeze. The blue ring of light around John’s mouth offered a clue as to why his breathing was constricted – his oxygen levels were low.
This was the scene at the Louisville Science Center on Sept. 19, 2012, as the Just for Kids Transport Team presented to roughly 100 students seated in front of them. The students – grades 6-12 – were there for Research Louisville, a 1-day event where students heard from researchers and had hands-on science experiences.
The Just for Kids Transport Team, which provides transportation for young patients in need of sophisticated emergency care, brought John along to demonstrate how the team trains for handling different emergency scenarios.
First up was a situation in which John had drowned. The students watched as the team began chest compressions and administered CPR, all the while keeping an eye on the tablet to monitor John’s vital signs. Next up was a situation where John was in the hospital and had been wheezing for 30 minutes. Again, the students watched as team members sprang into action.
For Josh Sumrall, an eighth grader at TK Elementary School in Elizabethtown, the demonstration gave a real world application to what he’d been learning in class.
“I recognized a few of the terms,” Josh said. “I see how it applies now, how applications are carried out.”
Josh’s classmate Gracie Greenwell recognized the value in using a test dummy like John.
“I think it’s a great way to help teach our emergency personnel what’s going to happen,” she said.
Once the Just for Kids Transport Team finished its presentation, Josh, Gracie, and the rest of their classmates were taken upstairs for a demonstration from the Paris Simulation Center’s Kevin Martin and Ian Beilman. Kevin and Ian, with their own adult-sized dummy, simulated a collapsed lung. The students were then asked to guess what might be wrong with the dummy given its symptoms, and eventually they deduced the correct diagnosis.
One of the students who helped the group arrive at that diagnosis was Ethan Eitutis, whose mother works as a nurse at Hardin Memorial Hospital. Even with his previous exposure to the medical field, Ethan was still surprised at the sophistication of the dummy.
“I didn’t know that they had all this simulation stuff,” he said. “I thought they just did it with the dummies you see in the car crash commercials.”
Eager to avoid a desk job, Ethan said he’s thought about the entering the medical field – particularly as an EMT – for a possible career. For him, the possibility of helping others is exciting.
“I like the fact that you can interact with people besides just talking to them,” Ethan said. “You’re getting to help people. Whenever something is wrong, you can be the first person there to help somebody out.”
Ian said that’s what their demonstrations are all about – building excitement.
“Events like this show the practicality, show how we’re doing it, and it really gets people excited, he said. “We have to get past this viewpoint of science as something you don’t want to do, and make it something that is interesting, fascinating and cool.”
Ian believes that building interest in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields is crucial to advancing society further into the 21st century.
“The STEM fields, that’s the future,” he said. “We need math and technology to discover. We’ve come so far and we still have so much to learn. We’ve seen more of the moon that we have the bottom of the ocean.”
That journey of discovery starts with students like Josh, Gracie and Ethan.
“They’ll be designing solutions to engineering problems that we don’t even know exist yet,” Ian said. “That’s why this is important.”