Research Elevates Trauma Training

Written by Catherine Lewis Saenz

One of the highlights for RVUCOM’s military students is participating in the annual Intensive Surgical Skills and Trauma Course (ISSTC), better known as Cut Suit Week, which immerses students in an array of Hyper-Realistic® training simulations including car accidents, active shooters, and explosions. First responders and other emergency personnel also participate in the course.

Through these high-stress simulations, students learn to perform cricothyroidotomies, deep wound packing, suturing, and combat application tourniquet placements while under extreme stress. This year, there was also the addition of two new skill stations: Intraosseous Infusion (IO) and Point-of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS). IO is the process of injecting medication, fluids, or blood products directly into the marrow of a bone, providing a non-collapsible point of entry into the systemic venous system. IOs also allow for the administered medications and fluids to go directly into the vascular system. POCUS skills – the practice of trained medical professionals using ultrasound to diagnose problems where a patient is being treated, whether in a hospital setting, an ambulance, or in more remote or underserved areas – are invaluable for students to hone. At Cut Suit Week, students also studied new research in regards to POCUS.

Additionally, there were many ongoing hardiness and resiliency studies that were conducted during the week. Of particular interest was the objective measurement of Hardiness Resilience Gauge (HRG) versus in-immersion training in courses like Cut Suit Week. This was achieved by a comparison to protein configuration and oculometric evaluation obtained using Impair-ID™, which is powered by Arizona-based Zxerex Corporation, and includes a high-speed camera, and an analytic computer and software.

Other studies included iCover, a rapid peer-based response that helps to manage acute stress, as well as salivary measurements of stress-induced proteins and the effect they have on the oral microbiota. The former also examined if military students could successfully recover when using iCover, while analyzing how it affected their resiliency during Cut Suit Week

Nowadays, research endeavors would not be complete without the addition of virtual reality. Two studies were conducted that compared the differences between hosting an in-person Cut Suit Week versus an interactive virtual reality version. These studies examined the emotional quotient, board scores, and skills between in-person and remote experiences.

More research conducted at Cut Suit Week included:

  • Studies on the utilization of “veracity” touch screen technology in the identification of abnormal response to stress education
  • An assessment of luminance perception of red/green polychromatic light, examining the identification of position by the enemy during static medical care. The research is entitled “Hiding from the Enemy: An Assessment of Perception of Polychromatic Light in a Simulated Tactical Environment.”
  • A comparison of how suturing is taught at RVU, focusing on the use of chicken skin versus traditional suture blocks.

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