Military Students Participate in Intensive Trauma and Surgical Skills Course

Written by Tamara Campbell, Coordinator for the Office of Military Affairs (RVU-SU)

The Intensive Trauma and Surgical Skills Course (ITSSC), better known as Cut Suit Week, was one of the best to date. Each year, it becomes more educational, efficient, and effective. Students are presented with complex trauma scenarios prompting them to take life-saving action in a simulated environment. Natural disasters, car accidents, active shooters, and explosions are just a few of the many scenarios during the week. For the first time, students in a nursing program were added to the teams for the course, as well as a life-flight team who practiced loading patients onto a helicopter. The course incorporates first responders, law enforcement, SWAT teams, and firefighters. These teams coordinate in neutralizing threats, containing bystanders, triaging victims, and loading patients into ambulances who are then taken to a mock emergency room, diagnosed, and treated. The ITSSC course, developed by Strategic Operations, Inc. (STOPS), incorporates second-year students from RVUCOM’s Military Medicine Program.

Over the course of the week, RVUCOM students – along with their counterparts from Touro University California, Touro University Nevada, and Western University of Health Sciences – and nurses participated in several Hyper-Realistic® Training simulations designed to prepare them for high-stress situations. Students performed cricothyroidotomies, deep wound packing, suturing, and combat application tourniquet placements in multiple emergency simulations. RVU’s research team was also on the scene conducting multiple projects, including hardiness and resiliency, along with a new study that examines the effect mindset has on the stress response. In the operating room, student doctors honed their surgical skills with the Cut Suit®, a human-worn body suit that simulates realistic trauma. Students had the opportunity to participate in different roles, such as head surgeon in the operating room, attending physician in the emergency room, and acting in turn as first responder, observer, and patient.

The large-scale, healthcare simulation event takes place every year at the STOPS facility in San Diego, California. In addition to our own amazing RVU instructors and staff, we were joined by John E. Moore, MD, Assistant Dean of Pre-Clinical Education for the Montana College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Holly Spitzer, DO ’20, who took a break from her military residency to attend and assist.

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