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Capital Idea Offers Virtual Medical Training

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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — If you ever have to call 911, you want the people who come to help you to know exactly how to treat your injury or illness. Now, EMTs and paramedics can learn how to handle an emergency on a computer before they see it in real life.

This Capital Idea gives them more realistic feedback than they can learn in a book and may just save your life. A homeowner calls 911 reporting gunshots next door. Arriving at the scene you find a person in the kitchen.

This all-too-real scenario can be played out on a computer. Not as a game, but as an interactive training device for those coming to the rescue.

"So they can have a chance to be in the fire house and practice on patients with gunshot wounds so when they get one, then they're more familiar with what to expect, what the problems might be," explains Paul Kizakevich.

Kizakevich combined his 21 years of biomedical engineering expertise with some virtual reality training and came up with his Capital Idea.

Paramedics and EMTs can test their skills by immersing themselves in a 3-D simulation.

Students receive constant feedback such as heart rate or blood pressure. They can hear breathing, choose which bandages to use, and whether to give the patient drugs or oxygen. They can even talk to the patient.

In the half-dozen scenarios Kizakevich has created so far, there can be hundreds of different outcomes since the body changes depending on the medical care it receives.

Whether the patient survives depends on if the student follows the correct procedures.

"You have to think real quick and as you saw in our practice session the person can die in five minutes," says Kizakevich, who has spent most of his life as an engineer forResearch Triangle Institute.

Although his invention is in a virtual world, Kizakevich sees the very real applications.

"I'm really hoping it can help make a difference in providing better education and experience for medical care," he says. "On a personal level, that would just be rewarding after doing this type of work for a number of years."

The military funded the initial phase of the research because 80 percent of the injuries in the Army are not battle-related.

Therefore, the trainer easily can work for the civilian world too.

In the next step, Paul Kizakevich hopes to expand the scenarios to include treating women and children.

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Debra Morgan, Reporter
John Cox, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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