November 12, 2010By Lance Baily

Veteran's Day with JTM Training Group

Hey Sim Champs,

I just spent an amazing Veteran’s Day with JTM Training Group here in Las Vegas and WOW –  talk about serious Medicine!

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While meeting with Mary Flynn from EMS World Expo, I got a chance to invite myself to her tour of Jim Mitchell’s Tactical Medicine training camp on the Nellis Air Force Base here in outskirts of Las Vegas.  With F-15 Eagles flying over head we were picked up in a black SUV and driven into the mountains of Las Vegas.  What I saw was one of the most impressive full-scale medical simulation sites I have ever seen! Check out the rest of the story to see inside this internationally famous tactical medicine simulation training program, sponsored by the U.S. Military & NATO!

As a retired para-rescuer, not to mention former medic for Vegas SWAT, Jim Mitchell sure knew how to build a training program for tactical medicine in a desert setting.  With a backdrop like the surrounding desert mountain ranges of Las Vegas building the scene is easy.  With beatup humvees to spare, Jim and his five expert full-time staff build desert combat situations for visiting training groups; everyone from the U.S. military to international NATO partners like the Swedish rescue corps.  Vehicles were towed to appropriate locations to demonstrate to learners the do’s and don’ts of barricade cover while trying to get to wounded comrades.

Scenarios would play out for participants throughout the day in a multitude of circumstances designed by Jim’s team.  In one such scenario, learners are thrown into a van BLINDFOLDED by a hood and told to hold on. Then while driving down a bumpy road throwing the learners all over the van, loud gunshots generated by speakers and poppers go off.  After several confusing minutes, a simulated IED goes off INSIDE the van, (a large air compressed boom which throws dust and debri into the air).  The van immediately stops next to a fire on the side of the road and the learners blindfolds are removed to reveal: a van with three moulaged and screaming victims – including real life amputees!  All the while “bad guys” are shooting paintballs at the van from a vantage point off the road.  Jim knows the importance of throwing learners into the middle of chaos, so that they can perform while literally “under fire”.

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What really impressed me was the cargo containers filled with all the necessary props, moulage stations, hardware, wardrobes, and supplies required to run such a medical simulation program in a tactical setting.  While comparable to the Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas‘ sim control room storage, Jim’s group has to go above and beyond with productions using up to 50 actors and actresses at a time!  This site does use a few mid-fidelity manikins to act as injured victims in the field, but prefers the realism of a screaming live patient.

Also on site were a few specialized training locations, like the Search and Rescue buildings.  Simulating collapsed buildings, these units had working water and sound systems to create chaotic environments that learners are forced to crawl through to find a missing victim.  Jim has participants flip over 300lb tires, run and and do push-ups before coming to the start of the box, to simulate their possible tiredness in such an event. This really reminded me of my days back in fire academy simulating downed fire fighter calls!

Jim was also proud of his “Death Box”, which although doesn’t look like much symbolizes many great lessons learned for those who undergo training with the JTM Group.  A surrounding field is filled with barbed wire, downed humvees, and barricades – and learners must choose routes and best practices to get medical attention to victims inside the death box.  Playing for real, shots taken from paintball guns must be treated as real – life gun shot wounds that learners must now mend as they continue to move to their victims.

The day I was at the JTM Training site a group of nurses from across the state of Nevada were undergoing their skills testing to become certified flight nurses.  These nurses were undergoing specialized training to deal with victims as first responders, practicing intubation, bleeding control, and patient extraction.

Lastly, I was really impressed by Jim’s understanding of the importance of debriefing after a medical simulation.  Knowing that military guys have “Type A” personalities meant getting groups to ‘open up’ and share the difficulties involved with their profession in an honest manner would be tricky.  So what did he do? He built a bar!  How genius is that? After a tough simulation, nothing helps these guys share openly in a social setting more than the feeling of a relaxed bar environment.

I had an amazing day checking out the facilities at the JTM Training Group and urge you to check out more about this fantastic program at their website: .  If you or someone you know is heading to the EMS World Expo ( here in Vegas this upcoming August there might be a special program in the works just for interested attendees!  Thanks to Jim and his staff for the tour!

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