At a time when rural emergency medicine is facing shortages of volunteers, equipment and funding, Nebraska’s rural EMS system has received a significant investment from the Helmsley Charitable Trust. The University of Nebraska Medical Center received a three-year, $5.5 million grant for four trucks and 20 simulators — mannequins that mimic patients — to help train rural EMTs and small-town hospital personnel.
The program will enable training to take place in towns across Nebraska so that volunteers don’t have to travel to Kearney or Omaha, where such continuing education for EMTs typically takes place.
The program gives support to a diminishing breed. Information distributed by UNMC said that between December 2013 and April 2016, the number of licensed emergency medical service providers in Nebraska dropped 18 percent, from 8,436 to 6,959.
The Helmsley grant also bolsters UNMC’s commitment to simulators, which enable students and practitioners to work on their skills without the risk of injuring real patients. UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey Gold is a proponent of the concept and aims to build a major simulation facility on his campus.
The simulators acquired through the Helmsley grant will be based in Scottsbluff, Kearney, Norfolk and Lincoln, where UNMC has nursing programs. The units are expected to be delivered in January. EMTs and other medical workers will have the chance to practice on trauma cases and catastrophic illnesses that they don’t normally see, said Shelley Stingley, director of the Helmsley Trust’s Rural Healthcare Program.
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