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C-STARS sets new DoD training standard with new simulator

Master Sgt. Barbara Lay, 60th Medical Group, and Capt. Andrew Morton, 82nd Medical Operations Squadron, stabilize the airway of a Athena, the first-ever simulator of its type, to be utilized in the Department of Defense, in St. Louis, Missouri.  The simulator has female features and offers advanced ventilation technology, serving as a vital piece to providing the best medical training possible for students completing the program. (U.S. Air Force Photo / SSgt Jodi Martinez)

Master Sgt. Barbara Lay, 60th Medical Group, and Capt. Andrew Morton, 82nd Medical Operations Squadron, stabilize the airway of a Athena, the first-ever simulator of its type, to be utilized in the Department of Defense, in St. Louis, Missouri. The simulator has female features and offers advanced ventilation technology, serving as a vital piece to providing the best medical training possible for students completing the program. (U.S. Air Force Photo / SSgt Jodi Martinez)

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio (AFNS) -- The St. Louis Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills is leading the way in innovative trauma training with its recent implementation of the first-ever Athena simulator to be utilized in the Defense Department. The simulator has female features and offers advanced ventilation technology, serving as a vital piece to providing the best medical training possible for students completing the program.

C-STARS, a two-week program that trains Air Force medical personnel to the highest caliber in responding to the unique traumas encountered in deployed environments, is one of just three Air Force training centers of its kind. At Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s C-STARS St. Louis program, Air Force medical personnel collaborate with St. Louis University Hospital, a Level I trauma center, in order to offer cutting-edge training for military personnel. Athena is its most recent advancement.

Athena’s “highly advanced lungs automatically respond to medical ventilation,” said Karen Johnson, the C-STARS simulation coordinator. “Mechanical ventilation is a big part of our training program here at C-STARS St. Louis. We train our students to utilize a ventilator for cases they may encounter when deployed downrange.”

Those cases are often explosive injuries seen during operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, wars that presented their own array of medical challenges. The challenges resulted in advanced simulation training that better prepared deployers to respond to significant trauma. The C-STARS providers and nurses behind the training are credentialed and have previously cared for patients injured during operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The experience of the cadre, coupled with the addition of Athena, help make the program one of the most advanced offered to military personnel.

The supplier of Athena, Canadian Aviation Electronics, said St. Louis C-STARS was the first DOD site in the world to receive this simulation model and the first in the world to receive CAE’s formal training on Athena. When Johnson recognized the potential of Athena, she made it a priority to bring Athena to C-STARS. Until Athena, Johnson said, she never came across a simulator with both anatomically correct female proportions and advanced ventilation functionalities.

“The important thing to remember here is the fact that implementing Athena into our program has increased our training capabilities,” Johnson said. “She allows us to present a more hybrid and complete approach to trauma simulation whether our students are first-time deployers or have deployed several times.”

“Simulation allows learners to build confidence and competence before they treat real patients,” Johnson said. “Simulators add realism to simulated clinical experiences by enhancing skills in critical thinking, physical assessment, and in our case at C-STARS St. Louis, trauma management.”

As C-STARS leads the way in medical training, they remain focused on providing the best training for medical personnel who may become the reason that a life is saved in future deployed environments.

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