Patient simulators help Girl Scouts earn badges

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COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) — The four girls were a bit hesitant to approach "Dylan" and "Peyton."

The life-like breathing and eye blinking from the patient simulators at Columbus Community Hospital took a while to get used to for the grade-school students.

But before long, the girls were checking the simulation mannequins for pulses and using stethoscopes to hear heartbeats.

The four students visited the hospital Thursday as part of the process of earning their Girl Scout first aid badge. Each is involved in the newly formed Girl Scout outreach program at West Park Elementary School.

The Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska launched the outreach program in Columbus this year to help meet the needs of more girls in the community. It is held in cooperation with the Communities Together Can After School Program, and is so far offered only at West Park.

All four girls — Jenna DeArcos, Hannah Gehring, Samantha Huerta and Allyson Maldonado — are in fourth and fifth grades and make up the junior troop. There also is a Brownie troop for younger students at the school.

The outreach program works like other Girl Scout troops with members working on projects to earn badges. The first aid badge is the first for the West Park students. To earn the badge, they make first aid kits, learn what to do in an emergency and visit with an emergency medical technician. A field trip, like that to a hospital, also can be a part of the process.

During the visit to CCH, Julie Vance, simulation lab coordinator, introduced the Girl Scouts to the mannequins that she calls Dylan and Peyton. The computer-driven mannequins are used in the simulation lab for education and training. The mannequins can act out a variety of health and medical scenarios and can even cry, sweat, blink, talk and give birth.

"They aren't dummies. We don't like that word here," Vance told the girls. "They are actually very smart."

The girls gathered first around the bed of Dylan, a child-sized mannequin, and watched as its chest rose and fell with each breath. Later, they moved over to the adult-sized Peyton and used stethoscopes to hear the heart beating in its chest.

Typically, the mannequins are used for training by nurses, health care professionals and college students from Central Community College-Columbus earning a nursing degree.

Along with getting an up close look at the patient simulators, the Girl Scouts also learned about IVs, stitches, blood samples and throat cultures, and treatment for some health problems like burns and cuts.

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Information from: Columbus Telegram, http://www.columbustelegram.com

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