23 — Stephanie Young, who teaches in the Emergency Medical Services program at Texas State Technical College in Brownwood, stands behind the ambulance simulator that was recently installed.When Stephanie Young went through EMT training at the Texas State Technical College campus in Abilene, Young and her classmates did not have access to an ambulance simulator.

In the classroom, the students used chairs to simulate the back of an ambulance.

“The training’s great without it,” Young said. “It’s 100 times better with it.”

An ambulance simulator was recently installed for the Emergency Medical Service program at the TSTC campus in Brownwood, where Young is the instructor. The simulator was installed just before the start of the fall 2018 semester and was paid for by a $50,000 training grant from the Brownwood Municipal Development District.

The simulator will be a major part of the projected growth of the college’s EMS program, TSTC provost Rick Denbow told Brownwood City Council members in March.

Young said she’d finished her EMT training at the Abilene campus by the time an ambulance simulator was installed there, and she is excited that the Brownwood campus now has one. “This one’s quite a bit nicer,” Young said, referring to the simulator in Brownwood.

“We were really wanting to grow the program and we knew we need the  tools to be able to grow it. There’s nothing better than hands-on simulation to teach students. We knew as a team, and even the students — you could see the excitement for them. It’s just a great tool.”

Some simulators can actually replicate the moving of the ambulance. “This one does not do that,” Young said. “That’s quite a bit of money. Everything — the space inside is as close as you can get. The heights, the width … you’re really having to learn how to maneuver around your patient.

“You’ve got several people back there  helping you, and not only that, the stretcher — getting the stretcher in and out is a challenge, especially when you’ve got a patient on there, so that’s really teaching a lot of hands-on experience.”

The simulator has “anything that  you would have in the back of an ambulance,” Young said. Equipment includes tubes, masks, a simulated cardiac monitor, splints and labeled vials of water to simulate medications.

When asked how the simulator has improved training, Young said, “oh, it’s like night and day. I can see a difference in the students and how they’re obtaining information and not being afraid. You’ve already been exposed, at least somewhat, to the environment in the back of a truck.”

Young said it seems fewer people are wanting to enter the EMS field than in previous years. She believes the simulator will help attract more students who want to become EMTs. “I think people come in here and they (say) ‘wow, I want to be part of that. I want to be a part of helping people, and I want to be part of the experience of EMS growing in the community,’” Young said. “I think it’s really valuable.”