We’ve all seen the gore of war played out on the screen, but seeing and dealing with it in real life is another story entirely.
A small group of reporters got as close a look as possible to the real thing this week at the University of Washington’s WWAMI Institute for Simulation in Healthcare (WISH) lab, where a small team of experts is at the forefront of major advances in better training medics in trauma care on the battlefield or the highway.
Inside the lab, Doctor Robert Sweet pulls back a curtain soon after the sounds of explosions and plumes of smoke come pouring out from behind to reveal a military medic clad in camouflage frantically trying to help a badly injured soldier hit by an improvised explosive device.
The soldier screams in pain, his leg blown off below the knee. Blood pours from the mangled limb. A gaping stomach wound reveals his insides, while you can see a hole in his side.
Despite the screaming, he’s struggling to breathe.
“I don’t want to die,” the soldier screams, as medic Troy Reihsen tries to calm him while methodically assessing the multiple wounds and trying to staunch the bleeding.
For 22 years, the veteran combat medic repeatedly faced the ravages of war, desperately doing all he could to save soldiers’ lives.
But on this day, he’s reliving the nightmare in hopes of saving far more. He’s dedicated his professional life, along with his colleagues,’ to creating the most realistic medical training simulators possible.
“We need to be able to train people to handle these environments,” Reihsen said. “Until these events stop happening, until we stop having car accidents, until we stop having IEDs and war and combat in these environments, we just need to be able to train folks appropriately on the right models so that when they get in the right circumstance, they don’t freeze and they know what to do.”