A group of Lakeside High girls recently formed a semicircle around a dummy and giggled as it made retching noises.
Fashioned to look like a 7-year-old boy, the dummy was a high-tech simulator from Fort Gordon's Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center used to train medical students. The girls, who belonged to a health occupations class at Lakeside, used the simulator and others to identify symptoms.
"They learn about these symptoms in class and they see these symptoms at (Doctors Hospital) making their rounds, but these simulators give them a hands-on experience they can't get anywhere else," said Lakeside healthcare science teacher Cathy Gray.
The simulators were brought to Lakeside by Eisenhower medical simulation administrator John Rogers, a former Army medic and nurse. He also exhibited the simulators last week at Evans, Grovetown and Harlem high schools. He performed the demonstrations as part of a Junior Achievement program.
Rogers told the students that before the simulators were available, medical students would have to practice on each other.
"Putting in an (intravenous) line for the first time, when you're nervous, on a live person, isn't ideal," he said. "With these (the simulators), you can put in an IV, put in a stent, even do an angioplasty, without worrying about hurting someone."
During the demonstration, Rogers used a keypad to simulate wheezing, moans and retching noises as the students used stethoscopes to listen to the boy's chest.
The simulator also has veins containing red-colored water so students could practice drawing blood.
Later, the students watched an infant-like simulator's lips turn blue when Rogers used a laptop to stop its ability to breath.
The $40,000 machine, called SimBaby, represented a state-of-the-art medical simulator. Through a laptop, Rogers was able to adjust SimBaby's heart rate, breathing and movement, and he even programmed it to laugh and cry.
The simulations not only help students learn to diagnose and treat illnesses, they also make them aware of possible medical careers, Rogers said.
"You've got to encourage that," he said. "And, if we mess up, no one dies."
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