Vehicle takes state-of-the-art emergency training on the road

It is an impressive and colorful 53-foot vehicle, but take a look inside Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center's LionReach and it is much more — a state-of-the art facility for training and evaluating hospital staff and other members of the emergency-preparedness team to respond to disasters and patient surge.

Purchased with funds from a Department of Health and Human Services grant, Penn State Hershey took delivery of the vehicle this summer after working in partnership with 17 regional hospitals to determine how the funds could best be used and what the vehicle would require.

“LionReach has the capacity to provide important services to our region by improving resources for emergency training and hospital preparedness,” said Dr. Thomas Terndrup, chair of emergency medicine at Hershey Medical Center and lead on the grant to obtain LionReach. “Its design and equipment gives the flexibility to offer LionReach for education, training and simulations.”

Hospitals are frequently less prepared for potential disasters than other emergency service agencies like police, fire departments and EMS providers, said Nancy Flint, Penn State Hershey program coordinator for healthcare facilities partnerships and LionReach.

"Everyone agreed that training and education for the hospitals when it came to disaster preparedness was key," Flint said. "The next issue for all the hospitals was that they don’t have the classroom space. Wouldn't it be great to have this vehicle be a moving classroom? So we decided when we configured it that we wanted it to have multiple purposes."

Three tabletop exercises dealing with pandemic flu, blast mass casualties and hospital evacuations were developed with the grant. LionReach, though, provides the space to learn in a number of ways.

To see a video walk-through of LionReach, visit /video/171501/2013/02/09/video-no-title.

The vehicle has space for a 30-person classroom, and is fully equipped with teaching and learning technology ranging from grease boards to LCD TVs to Webcams. Importantly, there is an array of equipment for computer-driven simulations, with mannequins hooked up to compressors and monitors. Health care providers can be presented with a set of complex and life-threatening problems in a realistic way that helps doctors, nurses and paramedics sharpen the skills and teamwork necessary to deal with real patients in high-pressure situations.

Flint added that someday, it is possible that LionReach could be used as an emergency response facility for treating patients or as an incident command center for hospitals and other community emergency management agencies. It has space for 13 patient beds along with oxygen and suction, and it is loaded with advanced satellite and radio communications devices.

"Training and education was our main purpose, however, this was such a huge asset we could certainly augment an emergency management agency or a hospital if they needed us to do quick triage or come in and do incident command,” said Flint.

Flint also hopes to develop an outreach initiative to take LionReach into rural communities for training and education.

Aside from the partner hospitals, LionReach has received an enthusiastic reception from a number of agencies and task forces. State and federal emergency management officials have spoken with Flint about mutual aid agreements for training, education and large-scale event response. Several local task forces, which could do training supported by federal money in LionReach, have spoken with her about the many ways LionReach could be used.

"Having them say how they could use it was more important than us going and telling them what they had to do with it," Flint said. "They are the ones who know what their needs are, so we're encouraging people to tell us how we can come in and fill the gaps. We have the ability to deliver a wide range of educational programs, the facility and the equipment to do it almost anywhere."

For more information, contact Nancy Flint at (717) 531-8333
 

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Last Updated November 18, 2010