NSRI, UNMC contract to develop military medical personnel assessment tools

by Katelyn Ideus
February 15, 2021

Image with caption: Alicia Schiller, PhD

Alicia Schiller, PhD

The National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) at the University of Nebraska and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) have been awarded a $142,000 contract with Tripler Army Medical Center (Tripler) in Honolulu, Hawaii, to create assessment tools that measure frontline military medical personnel skills acquisition, readiness and degradation. 
Led by Alicia Schiller, PhD, assistant professor of anesthesiology and director of combat casualty medicine at UNMC, the project will use novel medical simulation techniques to better understand how to effectively train for infrequently performed, high-value procedures executed by combat medics.
Training, validating and maintaining the skills necessary to provide combat casualty care is critical to saving lives on the battlefield. An appropriately designed skills assessment tool would allow resources for training to be better utilized while helping to maintain a medically ready force.
"The work we do here will answer some important questions about training with medical simulation, how to train for procedures and in what ways the simulation tool is important for success," Dr. Schiller said. "I appreciate the opportunity to provide these answers to Tripler. We will learn a lot together, and we will be able to immediately apply our new knowledge to help prepare the force that will ultimately care for our injured service members." 
The project will take place over the next 12 months, leveraging the medical and simulation facility at Tripler as well as Dr. Schiller’s laboratory at UNMC, specifically for the 3D printing capability to create the medical task trainers. Additional equipment used will include muscle electromyography, electroencephalogram, ergonomic assessment tools and other non-invasive physiological measurements to measure stress.
Ultimately, the team will deliver: 
  • A comprehensive assessment for skills acquisition 

  • A needs assessment for current training in combat casualty care skills 
  • A strategic plan for implementation of the new technologies and 3D printed procedural task trainers
  • Assessment technology to support medic training and healthcare provider readiness and performance
The project is sponsored by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command under its Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center’s Advanced Medical Technology Initiative.

"Combat medics are often the first on the scene to provide trauma and medical care to injured warfighters, and their ability to perform complex, life-saving procedures is crucial to saving the lives of warfighters in the field," said Dao Ho, PhD, chief of physiology in the department of clinical investigation at Tripler. "With this project, we hope to enhance medical skills training of combat medics and first responders in order to ensure the readiness of our fighting force."

This is NSRI’s first contract award with Tripler, a pride-point for the continually expanding research institute that works to enable deterrence of, preparedness for and response to strategic national security threats across multiple domains through research and support.

"No matter what the research focus area of our institute — nuclear, chemical, biological, infectious disease — NSRI is committed to supporting the warfighter, and this is a tremendous example of what the University of Nebraska can offer to meet that challenge," said Rick Evans, NSRI interim executive director and a retired Air Force major general. "We are proud to support Dr. Schiller as she helps the Tripler Army Medical Center reach its objectives."
Tripler Army Medical Center is a federal tertiary care military treatment facility in the Pacific Basin servicing active duty and retired military personnel, their families, and veterans. Tripler is an academic military teaching hospital with an active Clinical Investigation Program focused on advancing military health through collaborative research and professional health education. The Department of Clinical Investigation produces, develops, and evaluates the latest medical technologies and healthcare strategies to assure a ready medical force and a medically ready force.
Through the National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska leading scientists deliver innovative national security research, technology, product and strategy development, training and exercises, and subject matter expertise to the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. One of only 14 DoD-designated University Affiliated Research Centers in the country, NSRI is sponsored by U.S. Strategic Command and works to ensure the United States’ safety and preparedness against increasingly sophisticated threats. 
We are Nebraska Medicine and UNMC. Our mission is to lead the world in transforming lives to create a healthy future for all individuals and communities through premier educational programs, innovative research and extraordinary patient care.
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