After several months of planning, and stops in three rural Maine towns, the Human Patient Simulator mobile lab recently wrapped up a series of training days sponsored by Camden National Bank. More than 65 emergency medical providers in Greenville, Ellsworth and Machias took advantage of this unique hands-on training opportunity.

The goal of the training series was threefold: improve the critical care provided by rural emergency medical teams; improve the care of ill or injured children by providing advanced pediatric training; and serve as a model for working in partnership with like-minded organizations.

“A guiding principle at Camden National Bank is the belief that our vitality as a commercial bank depends on the well-being of the towns where we live and work,” said Camden National Bank CEO Greg Dufour, in a news release. “Supporting high quality training for local emergency medical providers through this unique simulator program is an effective way to make a favorable impact on the communities we serve.”

Well-trained first responders, EMTs and early care providers at community hospitals are essential to positive outcomes for critically ill and injured patients. Similar to a surgeon needing a volume of procedures to maintain skill, timing and confidence, emergency providers need hands-on experience to maintain critical skills.

The grant from Camden National was used to bring advanced critical care education to underserved areas of Maine. In 2005, LifeFlight of Maine partnered with the Maine Department of Public Safety, Maine Health Access Foundation and Maine Emergency Medical Services to secure a state-of-the-art Human Patient Simulator. This is a mobile medical laboratory incorporating the very best in medical simulation. TheHuman Patient Simulator is housed in a converted motor home whose interior is reconfigured as a hospital emergency room. It includes sophisticated computerized manikins that can be programmed to simulate a particular injury or trauma. The manikins are extremely lifelike and respond to treatment just as a real person would.

Tom Judge, executive director of LifeFlight, emphasized the importance of this unique training opportunity.

“Despite advances in emergency medicine, trauma continues to be a major health issue in rural Maine,” he said. “The leading cause of death and disability among those under the age of 40 in Maine is trauma, including nearly 80 percent of deaths among children and young adults. Improving the quality of care in rural areas is essential if we are to overcome the odds against survival for critically ill and injured patients.”

LifeFlight of Maine is an independent nonprofit air medical and critical care transport organization. It also provides advanced emergency medical training to Maine’s hospitals, emergency medical services and public safety agencies. LifeFlight has been recognized for its quality, safety and innovation, and in 2008 was named the top air medical program in North America.

Overseen by 18 physicians, LifeFlight cared for nearly 1,300 critically ill and injured patients in 2009. Services are provided by critical care teams using dedicated medical helicopters and ground ambulances based in Lewiston and Bangor. In the past 11 years, LifeFlight has transported more than 11,000 patients from every hospital and nearly 400 Maine communities. LifeFlight’s services are provided regardless of a patient’s financial resources.