ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Texas State Technical College has unveiled the first complete ambulance simulator in North America.

The realistic ambulance simulator was constructed using a Ford F-350 ambulance as its foundation. It does not drive like a traditional vehicle. Instead, it is designed to vibrate and replicate the sensation of being inside an actual ambulance. The simulator is also equipped with lights, sound, and standard EMS training mannequins on board.

The mannequins provide an opportunity for students to practice life-saving skills, while another student can learn how to drive an ambulance. The simulation is designed to create a realistic experience in a safe environment, and it is considered to be an invaluable asset by program director Ashley Blackburn.

“So we start the simulation from dispatch. Our students get dispatched to a call; they get in the driver’s seat, they drive to that call, they can get out, they take the stretcher out, go find the patient, take the patient back to the ambulance, treat the patient appropriately, and drive to the hospital. Yes, it’s a lot, but it’s just like what they would do in the real world, so it’s the best experience for the students,” Blackburn explained.

The development of this project was supported by TSTC, Echo Healthcare, and SimLeader, a Canadian company that aims to create safe training environments. The idea came around nearly ten years ago when the executive director of SimLeader, Robert-Francois Demers, had the idea of transforming a vehicle into a simulator.

“We have finally been able to give students the technology to train with what is not just a tabletop screen,” Demers said in a TSTC press release. “TSTC is the real thing when it comes to using technology, and this has been my dream to design.”

At the unveiling, local first responders had a chance to ‘test-drive’ the simulator, to which many said was very realistic.

“This is as real as it can be. People would not stop for me in the simulation,” Brianna Carrisalez, an operations supervisor for MetroCare, said. “To see this technology was amazing.”

“That is a top-notch simulation,” Sweetwater Fire Chief Dewey Coy said. “It is very realistic. This will be a big advantage in the learning process.”

This simulator is one of only two in the world; the other is located in Dubai.