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From Chokio Review: Flannigans leave mark on SimLab project

Ron and Arlou Flannigan seem to recognize the image on the side of Ridgewater College's new SimLab L1 (below). The Flannigan's daughter, Emily, is studying to be a chiropractor and was selected from an audition to pose for the image. Ron Flannigan, former head of the Stevens County Ambulance Service, helped develop the SimLab and will serve as its training coordinator.

By Kay Grossman

Chokio Review

A local father and daughter each played a unique role in the development and presentation of a state-of-the-art mobile training facility. Ron Flannigan and daughter Emily recently took part in the open house of SimLab L1 at the Ridgewater College campus in Hutchinson.

Ron Flannigan of Chokio has worked as the Simulation Lab Program Coordinator at Ridgewater College in Willmar and Hutchinson since December 2008. The SimLab project has been in the works the past three years. Ron helped bring the project to conclusion and will act as the training coordinator. Part of his duties include providing emergency training, coordinating programs, and making presentations to prospective clients.

SimLab L1 is a high-tech mobile training facility with a more than $3 million price tag. The lab will deliver the realism and effectiveness of simulation training to a broad spectrum of health care professionals ranging from First Responders to doctors. There are only a handful of simulation labs in the nation and only one other mobile lab of this level is based in Minnesota.

"Typically, hospitals send their people to training seminars which ends up costing a great deal of money," Ron said. "It's not the seminars that are expensive - it's the cost of lodging, travel and food. We can pull SimLab into a hospital's parking lot, and the medical staff can train during work hours. It is much more convenient and it is state-of-the-art."

SimLab L1 is a medical training lab on wheels that was set up to resemble an emergency or operating room. Cameras film the training with training experts recording each session. Playbacks are part of the instructional process and students are debriefed after each scenario. Simulation manikins have lifelike functions - they breath, cough, talk, act and feel very much like real patients. They can even be injected with medications. "We even have a manikin mother that gives birth," said Ron.

Emily Flannigan is studying to become a chiropractic doctor and a licensed acupuncturist at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington. Her image is among several other medical and emergency professionals' photos who grace the side of the Simlab. Her dad told her about the photo project and she attended the "cattle call" for the photo shoot along with hundreds of other candidates. Emily received the call back and is featured on the side panel of the trailer.

Ron, his wife ArLou, and Emily attended the special unveiling which was conducted for the supporters of the program and followed by a general public open house. Supporters and healthcare practitioners from four counties were among the 200 professionals in attendance.