RV trains first responders in rural settings

DENVER – The people who first arrive on the scene play a vital role for patients in a medical emergency. 

Those responders need to stay calm under stress and pressure and deliver life-saving care -- especially when it's a child. 

"Taking care of a pediatric patient is not just taking care of a little adult," said Dr. Jacob Beniflah, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.

When every second counts, there's no room for error.

Five-year-old Max's life depends on it.

Thankfully, Max is fine, because he's not a real boy. He's a mannequin who plays a vital role in how real children will be treated in a real-life emergency.

"Basically, it's like working on a real patient," said Courtney Banks, an emergency medical technician with Northglenn Ambulance in Commerce City, Colorado.

A 39-foot mobile training unit simulates pediatric emergencies. 

"We're the first in the country to offer that training from the ambulance to the hospital setting," Beniflah said.

The RV trains first responders in rural settings and hospital personnel. But it also teaches school nurses and athletic trainers. 

"This kind of training isn't something that they will really have ever seen," Beniflah said 

The mannequins can cry and breathe. Some turn blue and have seizures.

"We can change the patients' vital signs. We can actually make their tongue larger to make it more difficult for them to be intubated," Beniflah said.

The trainees gain skills, savvy and confidence to better treat their smallest patients. 

"They're delivering patients to us with better care, frankly," Beniflah said.

When there's a real-life Max to save, you can bet these first responders will be ready. 

The RV last year traveled 9,500 miles through Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and Kansas to train more than 1,000 first responders, hospital staff, school nurses, trainers and more at over 85 training events.