Anne-Marije Rook

Ballard High students experience almost-real medical emergencies (slideshow)

(Click on photo to start slideshow)

Eight high school students stand around in blue surgical gowns and fumble to put on their gloves in a sterile manner before focusing their attention on the pregnant woman in the OR. The patient is covered in surgical drapes, only her belly and head are exposed. The monitors are beeping, tubes are coming from her mouth and she's prepped to deliver a baby by vaginal birth or Caesarian Section. The students circle the bed and nurse technician hands shears or a different medical instrument to each student.

In a nearby room a car accident victim lies on the floor. He has sustained wounds to his neck, cheek and head. His left foot, although still intact, is turning a suspicious purple color. Some bones on his other foot are exposed and his little toe is missing. The paramedic is talking about checking the patient's airways but the surrounding girls can't stop staring at the patient's severed toe.

On Tuesday, 30 Ballard High School students got to experience what it's like to see a patient flat lining, to insert a breathing tube into an unconscious man's throat and to check a patient's vitals.

The students were the first high schoolers to visit the Gossman Center in a program to introduce students to non-physician track careers.

None of the patients in the Grossman Pediatric and Perinatal Simulation Center on First Hill are real. They are life-sized, computer-controlled patient mannequins that represent children of all ages and mothers during childbirth. Each is integrated with wireless hardware and advanced software that create preplanned training scenarios mirroring situations calling for rapid response by medical teams.

The mannequins can mimic human sounds made by the lungs, heart or bowel. They will cry, exhale, inhale, move their arms and legs, blink, and talk to practitioners. They can even simulate the appearance of blood and urine, respond to treatment, and have a heart attack.

At nearly $300,000 a pop, these dolls are the closest practitioners can get to an emergency involving a real human being. The Grossman center is used by doctors and nurses to

"Our goal is to expose kids to medical careers they may not have heard of and which don't take years of college," said Theresa Demeter, the Gossman Center's director.

"These career paths are for those students interested in the medical field but don't necessarily want to go to school for four to 12 years to become a physician."

Students were introduced to five career paths: Radiology / X-ray Technician:, EMT and paramedic, surgery technician, nursing and simulation as a career in itself.

"This gives them an idea of the options. It only takes six to 12 months to become a scrub technician at a Tech school," said Leslee Goetz, Clinical Director of Grossman who was supervising the students in the OR.

Goetz has been a laboring nurse for years and said the best thing about her career is the variety. "I teach, write procedures, speak at conferences, and do expert witnessing. I've done ten different things in my one career path.

Madi Blavka, a Freshmen at BHS, said she's been interested in a medical since she was little. She has a particular interest in sport medicine but that may haved changed after the day at Grossman. "It's interesting to experience a different side of the medical field than what I was interested in before," she said.

DeMeter said Swedish is planning on holding introductory events like this four times a year .

"We need more people in the medical field and there was a lot of interest from students. We could have easily had 60 kids here today."

For more information on the Grossman Center, please visit their website at

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