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University of Iowa program prepares Iowa EMTs for RAGBRAI

 The Simulation in Motion truck stopped in Sioux City to provide local emergency services with simulation training to prepare for RAGBRAI.
Kendall Crawford
/
IPR
The Simulation in Motion truck stopped in Sioux City to provide local emergency services with simulation training to prepare for RAGBRAI.

A University of Iowa program is training paramedics along this year’s RAGBRAI route on how to prepare for bicycle-related injuries.

The Simulation in Motion (SIM-IA) program launched its first training session for emergency service providers in Sioux City this week. Program advisors guided local EMTs through emergency simulations –- like heat exhaustion or head injuries – that they might encounter when cyclists ride through their town.

The session is a part of a larger initiative to offer more educational opportunities for rural EMTs. Senior advisor and associate professor of nursing at UI, Jacinda Bunch, said it can often be difficult for small towns to provide simulation training on their own. She said SIM-IA will aim to close educational gaps for those who otherwise would have to travel for supplemental instruction.

“You have to backfill their position. There's travel. There's overnights,” Bunch said. “There's a lot of expense associated with that. So, what we can do is we can take our truck and our simulators to them.”

The Sioux City Fire and Rescue evaluate a mannequin to determine the best treatment in a simulation on Tuesday.
Kendall Crawford
/
IPR
The Sioux City Fire and Rescue evaluate a mannequin to determine the best treatment in a simulation on Tuesday.

The simulation van is just one of three that will be stationed in Iowa City, Des Moines and Sioux City. For now, one van will make its way eastward across the state to ensure RAGBRAI towns are prepared to take on the crowds of cyclists.

The Sioux City Fire and Rescue prepare for RAGBRAI through simulation trainings provided by SIM-IA.
Kendall Crawford
/
IPR
The Sioux City Fire and Rescue prepare for RAGBRAI through simulation trainings provided by SIM-IA

Matt Hubbard attended the first training session in Sioux City. The western Iowa paramedic said he was excited for the chance to interact with high-quality technology. While his department has undergone simulations before, he said it’s rare to have so many resources and instructors on hand.

Hubbard said the mannequins provided by SIM-IA are much more interactive than much of the equipment the Sioux City Fire and Rescue currently owns. With pupils that dilate and pulses that react to treatment, he said it gives a lifelike practice session.

“[It’s] very realistic. It brings our training up to a whole new level. And it's also going to be allowing us and the other departments and agencies in this area to really step up their own training programs,” Hubbard said.

"It brings our training up to a whole new level."
Matt Hubbard, paramedic

Bunch said she hopes that paramedic teams leave the sessions better prepared to take on any emergencies that arise during the July cycling event. As the program progresses, she said the sessions will focus on rarer but more complex medical emergencies. That way, rural EMTs can feel prepared for any situation that hits them.

“Just to be able to support those first responders and really to improve patient outcomes across the state, that's really kind of our ultimate goal with this,” Bunch said. “Our job is to serve and to help support them.”

Kendall is Iowa Public Radio’s western Iowa reporter based in Sioux City, IA.