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SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Technical Community College surgical technology program has acquired a new simulator that gives students hands-on experience addressing emergencies during birthing procedures.

Featuring an open abdomen with access to internal organs filled with artificial blood, the C-Celia Emergency Postpartum Hemorrhage (PPH) Simulator allows training for postpartum and cesarean hysterectomy procedures. Surgical tech students can use the simulator to learn how to control bleeding and make stitches with a suture.

“We actually can make this unit bleed, profusely if we want,” said Mary Jayne Rossman, Surgical Technology program director at STCC.

The unit includes a simulated uterus, bowel, fallopian tubes and ovaries that students can cut into. Students learn the best ways to stop bleeding if a mother is experiencing post-partum hemorrhaging. Surgical technology instructor Kathleen Sawtelle said the simulated blood looks real and even changes color after exposed to air over time, as real blood does.

The STCC surgical technology program teaches students skills needed to become a surgical technologist. Technologists handle the instruments, supplies and equipment necessary during a surgical procedure. Surgical techs must have an understanding of the procedure being performed and anticipate the needs of the surgeon, which is why training on the simulator is so important.

“You have to know how to assist the surgeon and understand what the surgeon needs,” said Michelle Dodge, a surgical technology instructor.

Some scenarios involving the simulator might go above and beyond a surgical tech’s scope of practice. But such training “is going to help you think like a surgeon in order to better help him or her,” Dodge said.

“We have to respond quickly in high stress and emergency situations,” Dodge said. “It’s a good teaching tool.”

Students will work on the PPH simulator in the SIMS Medical Center at STCC, a nationally recognized patient simulation facility. The technology has evolved since the center opened in 1999 when simulators were used for basic medical training like cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and learning to insert an intravenous (IV) needle. Today, the units are more lifelike and allow students to practice more complex procedures.

“Simulation is cutting edge,” Dodge said. “It’s the way everything in healthcare is going. If you do it for real out in the field, it’s better that you have the simulation in the classroom first.”

In 2019, STCC received a $500,000 state Skills Capital Grant in part to purchase new medical patient simulation training equipment for the School of Health and Patient Simulation. The new PPH simulator cost $15,000.

Surgical Tech students learn in a classroom, which is set up like a real operating room, complete with a bed an instruments surgeons would use. The PPH simulator will be the newest learning tool added to the room. Students have worked on simulators before, but the new unit takes their training to a new level.

“This is going to be like it’s real,” Dodge said. “Now you’re under the gun. The patient’s bleeding. What are you going to do? What do you need next? What kind of suture? This is going to really help prepare our students.”