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Chris Bieri, Forum Communications, Published August 02 2012

UND gets $5M grant for mobile medical vehicles

GRAND FORKS – A $5 million grant to the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences will allow emergency responders in rural areas to receive state-of-the-art training without traveling to major health care centers.

The university announced Thursday the donation from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, which will be used to install four mobile training vehicles, one each Grand Forks, Fargo, Minot and Bis-marck. The 44-foot-long vehicles will each include a simulated emergency room, a simulated ambulance and a simulation control center, according to Dr. Jon Allen, director of a medical simulation center based at UND called ND STAR.

Each vehicle costs around $444,000.

A nurse and two paramedics will staff each vehicle, bringing training to rural emergency units and hospitals, Allen said. They will likely be on the road two to four days a week, even more in the busy Oil Patch, he said.

The vehicles and their staff will be part of ND STAR’s Simulation in Motion-North Dakota program. SIM-ND has been training students and medical professionals since 2007, after getting a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota. The program was always meant to go statewide.

“We now have the opportunity to get the training out to them,” said Allen. “They wanted us to get out to all corners of North Dakota. We’ve been working on it and this is absolutely perfect for what our mission is.”

A similar program started two years ago in South Dakota, where it’s allowed busy people to go about their daily lives and still get trained, said Walter Panzirer, a Helmsley Charitable Trust representative.

Chris Bieri write for the Grand Forks Herald