CUTLINE: Capt. Scott Fallin, administrator of the Air National Guard C-STARS program, watches as simulation coordinator Dave St. Andrews prepares to connect monitoring equipment to one of the program's anatomical mannequins, which can mimic numerous traumatic medical conditions. The C-STARS trauma training center at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center is designed to mock battlefield conditions so the treatment room looks like the inside of a tent. As program students treat the mannequin, battlefield sounds are played over speakers to add to the realism. (Bill Phelan photo)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Missouri Air National Guardsmen who might someday treat wounded American troops will face a major test of their medical skills during a tornado disaster exercise planned for mid-town St. Louis on Oct. 24.
Under the exercise scenario a tornado strikes the Imagine Academy of Science and Math, injuring approximately 60 middle school students. Responding to the disaster will be Abbott Ambulance Service, ARCH Helicopter, students and staff of the National Guard C-STARS program, and the Trauma Center at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center, who is coordinating the exercise.
"We've always conducted mass casualty exercises at Cardinal Glennon but they got a lot more serious after 9-11," said Christine Green, the Cardinal Glennon Trauma Program manager. "Last year we had a mass casualty incident with only 27 patients and that really didn't challenge us enough. This year we wanted to do something more, so we contacted the folks at C-STARS and they agreed to participate."
C-STARS is a Level 1 trauma training program created in 1998, primarily for medical teams of the Missouri Air National Guard. It was the brainchild of the late Col. Michael Hayek, who was the Missouri State Air Surgeon at the time.
"Dr. Hayek recognized that his National Guard medical teams were not prepared should they face a drawn out conflict," explained Capt. Scott Fallin, of Shiloh, Ill., a Missouri Air National Guard officer and administrator of the St. Louis C-STARS program. "About 40 percent of these folks were serving in non-clinical roles in their clinical capacity. So Col. Hayek's vision was to develop a partnership with an inner city trauma center so that local Guardsmen could drill at the trauma center and develop their skills."
C-STAR program graduates have gone on to serve on medical teams in Iraq and Afghanistan, saving the lives of U.S. Troops, coalition forces and many civilians, including children.
"For that reason we started a pediatric program with Cardinal Glennon about two years ago," Fallin said. "We've been sending students through Cardinal Glennon ever since."
To make the exercise as realistic as possible, the victims will have stage makeup wounds and will be transported to the Cardinal Glennon Trauma Center, where C-STAR students will be expected to evaluate and treat the victims in a timely fashion, all under the watchful eyes of Green, Fallin and the trauma center staff.
Green said the exercise is all about "moving patients safely through the system."
"We need to make sure we know where everyone is and we need to test our communications between our incident command and all those agencies involved," she explained. "Hopefully that will all go well."
The exercise will also include the use of high-tech and very expensive anatomical mannequins capable of simulating all sorts of traumatic injuries. The pneumatically-controlled "patients" are constantly monitored through a series of sensors and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"We're going to use our mannequins as mock patients," said Dave St. Andre, of Swansea, Ill., the simulation coordinator. "One will have a neck bleed while the other will have a 50 percent body burn. We will be able to control the mannequin's condition so if the students do what they are supposed to do the mannequin will get better. If they don't he will deteriorate and die."
"The idea is to test these students under a high-pressure situation and evaluate their performance," added Fallin. "After the exercise we'll sit down with each student and discuss what they did right and wrong."
For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please visit www.moguard.com and our social media sites: www.facebook.com/Missouri.National.Guard; www.twitter.com/Missouri_NG; www.youtube.com/MoNationalGuard; www.myspace.com/missouri_ng; www.flickr.com/photos/missouriguard; www.moguard.com/blog; www.pinterest.com/monationalguard/