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Denver Health EMS program educator helps make learning very realistic in a cost effective way

<i>KCNC</i><br/>EMS national week is May 21 through May 27
KCNC
EMS national week is May 21 through May 27

By JASMINE ARENAS

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    DENVER (KCNC) — EMS national week is May 21 through May 27, and it is an opportunity to celebrate emergency medical services staff and the work they do in our communities. In Denver alone, paramedics at Denver Health respond to more than 120,000 calls every year.

But it would not be possible to do without proper training. One local educator and paramedic for the EMS program has found a way to make learning very realistic in a cost-effective way.

For more than 20 years, Christy Allen has been helping train EMT students at Denver Health Paramedics – EMS education school.

“I like to teach people how to save lives,” said Allen.

Ten years ago, Allen was asked to find a cost-effective way to make this experience of teaching students realistic, while also saving the school some money. She quickly got to work and started making some props from scratch to help with the training. She taught her division to make bones to help students with things like placing IVs and even skin.

“Out of necessity, we created a leading simulation mannequin, but it didn’t really meet the needs of our students, and so we needed something more realistic, so our students can physically practice the act of leading control. We created some inserts for the mannequin and we stuffed tubes through them, and we have a pump that will actually make this mannequin bleed so our students, the Denver Police Department and fire department Denver paramedics, new EMT students, paramedic students can actually physically practice placement of a tourniquet and stuffing an open bleeding wound with some kerlix,” Allen explained how they use some of those props.

Making the props allowed her to be creative in many ways.

“This is actually one of the favorite parts of my job, to come into kind of my mad scientist workshop and create new things that we can use to train people to save lives,” said Allen.

She says that every year they put more than 300 EMT students through training, and train 100 paramedic students while also helping Denver police and fire departments and their own paramedics. It adds up.

“The whole purpose behind this was the number of students that we’ve put through, let’s say in just a year… the cost of replacing these parts was astronomical,” added Allen.

According to Allen, the cost for these props amount to about $100,000 a year and some items can only be used once.

“The skins for the cricothyrotomy training, we can only use that one. We get six skins at a time for like $30 and I can make 100 of them for about $100, it saves us time and money,” added Allen.

Allen and her team make skin using dragon skin, slacker and silk pig for coloring.

To make bones they use foam and silicone. It is all a process and takes time, but the props feel real, save them thousands of dollars, and give students a real-life experience.

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