When it comes to preparing for medical emergencies, there's only so much firefighters can learn from practicing on mannequins. That's why, for the second year, the Rochester (Minn.) Fire Department is partnering with Mayo Clinic's Multidisciplinary Simulation Center to give its crew a hyper-realistic training.

Actors in two different rooms act out medical emergency scenarios and groups of firefighters respond how they would if the situation was real. In one room, a teenage boy is having a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting and his school nurse is panicking. In another room, a man was stabbed in the leg.

No one is in actual danger. The blotches on the teenager's body are stage makeup, and the “blood” spurting from the man's leg is made from beet juice. The performances are fake, but the training is real.

"It gets everybody's stress level up a little higher. It gets us about as close as we can to the real event. Things always play out a little differently on the street compared to a sterile class environment," says Batallion Chief and EMS Group Coordinator Erik Propotnik.

The actors can respond to the firefighters' medical treatment in a way mannequins can't. The man with the stab wound howls in pain while the firefighters try to help him; the panicking school nurse could be a distraction to the crew trying to assist the boy.

"They memorize scripts and deliver a performance based on the need for the scenario, so it's very life-like. It's very similar to a real situation," explains nursing education specialist Brenda Bos.

Through a one-way mirror, instructors watch the scenarios and when they're complete, head to a conference room to talk to the group about what went well, and what they need to work on.

In the traumatic bleeding scenario, Limb Lab created a special device to attach to the actor's leg. With it, the firefighters are able to realistically put a tourniquet on him without hurting the actor.

Source: KIMT23 News