Southwest welcomes Tennessee’s only ambulance simulator

The Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program is proud to have a new, state-of-the-art ambulance simulator that provides students a unique learning experience.

The only one of its kind in the state of Tennessee, the simulator mimics real-life patient care on the go, down to the rocking motion felt while an ambulance whizzes in and out of traffic en route to a medical facility.

ambulance simulator

Brent Jernigan applies compressions while Jeremy James and Tiffany Sumlin simulate lifesaving medical procedures on a fully functioning mannequin in the new ambulance simulator.

“The students love it and it’s exciting to them,” EMT Instructor and Coordinator Merry Mattix said. “They want to be better at everything—in the classroom, at their skills in tight places,” she added.  Mattix says a chance to work in the simulator is a privilege and strong motivation for the students to excel in their studies.  “The student has to get to a certain level outside of the ambulance before they can work the simulator, so it has become an incentive to work harder.” 

Brent Jernigan has been in the program for two years.  He earned his basic emergency medical technician certification in spring 2016 and now is studying to become a paramedic.  “It has really helped with making it feel more real,” Jernigan said.  “We treat patients in other areas, then we can take them to the unit and actually continue as if we were transporting. 

“Before, we would say that we were transporting, but now we get the feel of putting the patient on the stretcher, loading into the ambulance and working elbow-to-elbow with everybody in the back like you really would be.”

Prior to the simulator, students had to pretend with various props that they were in an ambulance or they had to wait until field rotation where they had to learn about the ambulance, how it moves, how to balance, and other factors.  “Now they can go from the beginning of the call to the end and it is as real as possible,” Mattix said.

ambulance simulator

The high-tech teaching aid was made a reality thanks to an Advance Southwest Grant that also funded the purchase of mannequins and other equipment designed to create a high-fidelity simulation lab for EMT and paramedic students.

Mattix says Southwest is the facility of choice for EMT training in the Memphis area.  “The only other training facility in the area is at the Memphis Fire Department,” she says, “but they only train paid firefighters in Memphis or Shelby County.”  Southwest’s EMT program has produced some of Memphis’ most successful paramedics and technicians.  The graduation rate over the past 10 years has been 100 percent and about 90 percent of these graduates have passed the board certification examination and are working in their field of study.