February 22, 2022
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A New “Student” Joins the Huntingdon MAT Program
Pictured, left to right, MAT students Tripp Jones, Kimberly Baker, “Gerald,” Caroline Dent, Elexis Arnold, and Coco Burgess.
Montgomery, Ala.— A new student joined the Huntingdon College Master of Athletic Training program in mid-fall. Gerald, as the other MAT students have named him, is a multi-talented manikin designed to strengthen his classmates’ skills in airway management, breathing assessment, vascular access, palpation and auscultation, fluid resuscitation, ECG interpretation, and ultrasound assessment and diagnosis. In addition, Gerald’s complex technology will illustrate and assist MAT students in preparation for hundreds of emergency situations for which athletic trainers must be able to respond within a heartbeat of time.
Manufactured by Laerdal Medical as SimMan® ALS, Gerald and his accessories come at a high cost—more than $70,000—with funds provided by an anonymous donor to the MAT program. Undergraduate students in the Introduction to Athletic Training course have also gotten to know Gerald.
After his arrival in mid-October, MAT program instructors and students underwent two days of training learning how to use him. “He’s so much more than a simple CPR dummy,” says MAT program director Dr. Jennifer Ballard. “He’s a game-changer. In the CPR process a typical manikin only lays there and provides a vessel for practice. But using Gerald, his sophisticated software and mechanics measure whether students are putting their hands in the right place for effective CPR, are providing adequate pressure, and if the rhythm of their chest compressions is adequate to save a life. Students can feel the stiffness of the ribs and can learn if enough air is being provided during resuscitation. Through this manikin they receive immediate feedback on the efficacy of their technique and they can develop the muscle memory to give them confidence in a real-life situation.”
Beyond CPR, Gerald’s blood pressure, eyes, tongue, heart rate, breathing, jaw, abdomen, spleen, and lung sounds are among the many body parts and functions that can be changed to simulate myriad medical conditions on which students need to be familiar and proficient with treatment. An arm extension prepares students for inserting IVs. Students can also practice obtaining core body temperatures in the case of heat stroke.
“As athletic trainers, our bread-and-butter is injury assessment and investigation,” says Dr. Ballard. “We spend more than 90 percent of our time on injuries. Even though only about four percent of our time is spent on critical, life-threatening emergencies, we have to be ready for them. Among class members we can’t simulate medical conditions in real life. This manikin can simulate and prepare students to treat most of the conditions for which they need to demonstrate proficiency, including appendicitis, gynecological problems, gastro-intestinal maladies, kidney stones, testicular torsion, concussion, neurological disorders, allergic reactions, infectious diseases, liver and spleen injuries, diabetes, heart problems, asthma, pulmonary and cardiac emergencies … the list goes on and on.”
Gerald won’t have to pass any tests, but he’ll be giving quite a few of them. Dr. Ballard says that instructors will use Gerald to present students with numerous emergency medical scenarios they will need to diagnose and treat. “I can project my voice through Gerald, so as students question him I can give answers that correspond with symptoms that I simulate through the computer that controls him and time students on how quickly and accurately they diagnose and treat him.”
MAT student Kimberly Baker began planning for a career in athletic training when she was a senior in high school. She graduated from the Huntingdon undergraduate program in exercise science in 2020 and moved on to the MAT program’s first cohort. She is credited with giving Gerald his name. “Gerald has honestly brought things together for me in my mind as far as vitals and emergency care go,” says Ms. Baker. “I have always learned CPR on the dummies that give you no feedback other than maybe a clicking to let you know your compressions are deep enough. Working with Gerald allows me to see how my techniques and methods of rescue affect him. With any scenario that we choose to set-up in his programming, I believe that I will be more confident in my abilities in case of an actual emergency.”
While Gerald may be a technological marvel for the athletic training vocation, he simultaneously deepens the rigor of the Huntingdon MAT program. “This is not an easy program,” says Dr. Ballard. “People’s lives and limbs depend on the decisions we make. We ask students to learn a lot about the human body in a very short amount of time, and we’re grateful that a donor made it possible for us to add Gerald to the program to teach medical conditions and responses in such a memorable, meaningful way. Gerald provides a state-of-the-art approach that gives our students an advantage as they prepare for licensure exams and for practicing in the field.”
The Huntingdon Master of Athletic Training Program is accepting applications for its second cohort of students, who will enter in May 2022. To learn more, visit www.huntingdon.edu/mat. The application deadline is March 15.