Construction will soon be underway at Northern Maine Community College to develop an emergency medical service simulation lab. The expansion is part of an ongoing effort to use simulated environments to provide near real-world experiences to students in supervised training settings. Leading institutions use advanced simulation technology to improve graduates’ competence, especially in clinically rare situations.  

“Healthcare in rural areas of Maine is at a precipice,” said NMCC President Timothy Crowley. “Due to limited resources, financial and human, many healthcare facilities find themselves having to make tough decisions regarding types of services and care to be provided. Emergency care has already reached that level of concern.” 

The College will completely renovate a 5,000 sq. ft. space that has not been used for several years and convert the space into an EMS lab area. This space will allow year-round indoor training with the program’s new ambulance, which was purchased last year and funded by the NMCC Foundation. The new space will also contain areas for formal classroom presentations and a lab space equipped with advanced technology and interactive mannequins. Audio-visual technology will allow instructors to view and record in all areas of the new space and observe scenarios remotely if necessary.

The expansion reflects Aroostook County’s increasing need for paramedics and the resulting increased enrollment in the EMS technician and paramedic programs. 

Since 2018, NMCC EMS students have had access to Trauma Hal, a lifelike training mannequin housed in the Nursing Simulation Center. Trauma Hal was designed as a rugged trauma patient simulator engineered to meet the training needs of emergency medical teams. The new space will allow simulation to reach new levels of authenticity with access to additional specialized simulators and training equipment.  

“The simulation equipment at NMCC meets and exceeds some of the best in the country,” said Dr. Peter Goth, who serves as a medical advisor for the program and specializes in critical care training and transport medicine. “The commitment of the college to work on developing the resources to be used for instruction and professional training is one of the reasons I work with NMCC,” Goth stated. “The location of NMCC makes it accessible to all four of the County hospitals and provides the opportunity for centralized training. This centralization eliminates some of the barriers that might have limited access to critical care transport training in the past.” 

Project funds were awarded through a grant from The Rodney & Mary Barton Smith Foundation, whose founder Mary Smith is originally from Presque Isle.  

“It is really hard to put a dollar value on this training for the healthcare and medical professionals in Aroostook County,” Goth stated. “It is the same quality of training that is offered in other areas of New England, but now it will be available in Aroostook County.” 

“NMCC has and will continue to be a cornerstone of education in Aroostook County,” said Dr. Beth Collamore, the medical director of NMCC’s EMS programs. “NMCC has produced top-notch nurses and EMS clinicians who have and continue to support the healthcare workforce in The County. NMCC strives to support the growing demand for healthcare professionals in order to deliver quality care to the people of Aroostook County.” 

“At Houlton Regional Hospital, we are extremely grateful for the partnership that we have with Northern Maine Community College as we, together, are educating the clinical workforce of the future for this region,” said CEO Shawn Anderson. “We couldn’t be more pleased to learn of NMCC’s most recent grant award to establish an EMS training simulation lab.  This lab will be an awesome tool in the effort to ensure that our region is served by well-trained EMS first responders for many years to come!” 

“AR Gould and all of the healthcare organizations in Aroostook are dependent on contemporary, high quality training,” said Daryl Boucher, Northern Light A.R. Gould’s vice president of operations. “NMCC has a long history of being committed to workforce development and has been a tremendous partner, always working to meet the needs of Aroostook County.” 

According to Emergency Medical Services Department Chair Andrew Gagnon, the simulation lab can also serve as a regional training center for Aroostook County. “The scenarios will allow for the practice of high-risk, low volume procedures and patient interactions with no risk for patient harm.” 

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The College is currently beginning the design phase for this new facility. For more information regarding NMCC’s EMS program please visit nmcc.edu or call the admissions office at (207) 768-2785.

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