Norton medical students and paramedics practice on human cadavers

Norton Healthcare medical students train using cadavers

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A donation of a human body to science could save someone else’s life.

At Norton Healthcare, medical students and EMS workers are getting a unique opportunity for hands on learning by training on human cadavers.

"Although some of the mannequins have gotten very, very sophisticated, there’s a big difference in actually intubating real people because you can’t duplicate that same experience on a mannequin,” pulmonary and critical care physician Dr. David Hasselbacher said.

Intubation is used to help patients in cardiac arrest or severe respiratory distress who can’t breathe on their own.

“We as paramedics don’t get a lot of opportunity to intubate often and it’s absolutely a perishable skill,” Hardin County EMS paramedic Timothy Morrison said. “I hadn’t intubated in a year until I intubated two weeks ago.”

Most of the medical students in Wednesday’s class had only ever practiced intubation on mannequins.

"Having not intubated in a year, I jumped on the opportunity to come in and do it,” Morrison said.

The skill can save lives. Louisville EMS said they need to intubate around 1,000 patients each year.

"It’s one of those high risk, low acuity skills, and it’s one of those skills that’s very important to manage the airway to ventilate a patient,” Major Chris Lokits said.

With so many benefits of practicing on a real cadaver, medical students consider the donation to science a gift.

“People aren’t made like plastic dummies -- the anatomy, the physical features are much different,” Loktis said. “It’s important to be able to appreciate those differences so when you encounter them in real life you’re able to adapt and to still provide that skill.”

Norton Healthcare had a total of 35 people attend the three classes Wednesday and plans on scheduling more classes soon since they are in such high demand.

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