$5.3 million federal grant establishes MU combat training program

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 | 2:57 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The Great Room at the Reynolds Alumni Center was filled with the sound of heavy breathing. One quick scan of the room revealed the source of the noise: a dummy dressed in army camouflage with an amputated leg.

The dummy is a simulation model used by the MU Combat Casualty Training Consortium. The consortium was created with a $5.3 million U.S. Department of Defense grant, which was announced Tuesday.

"Funding will support our researchers in evaluating the effectiveness of existing combat medic training methods in three critical research areas: hemorrhage control, airway management and emergency medicine skills," said Stephen Barnes, principal investigator of the consortium.

Simulation models can be used to simulate various medical scenarios while giving feedback to participants in real time, according to a MU School of Medicine news release.

Robert Bell, a clinical instructor, demonstrated how to use the simulation model after the announcement. The model's chest rose and fell as he pumped air into its "lungs." He explained how the vital signs can be controlled by a laptop and pointed out a military specific tourniquet on the stump leg that helps control hemorrhaging in the field.

Barnes said this grant can help improve the care of wounded soldiers and standardize the way medics are trained.

"Combat medics are the first responders to help our wounded warriors, so it is critical that these health care providers receive the absolute best training," he said.

Barnes and his colleagues will lead a team of more than 30 civilian and military experts across the country on the project, according to the release. The primary grant partners include the University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of South Florida, University of Central Florida and Information Visualization & Innovative Research, a program and system management firm in Florida.

The program will asses the effectiveness of current methods and recommend how the U.S. Department of Defense will train combat medics, Barnes said.

"We're optimistic that findings from our studies will improve efforts to save lives and drive development of military medical training for the next decade," he said.

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