Montana center lands Air Force contract for pararescue simulator
By Renata Birkenbuel | The Montana Standard, Butte | Published: April 18, 2014
BUTTE, Mont. — Entrepreneurs Ray Rogers and Pat Dudley skillfully figured a way to combine health-care technology with military training.
They have landed a $1.2 million contract with the U.S. Air Force to create a training simulator for special operations paramedics, the two told 45 small business owners in an entrepreneurial panel Thursday at Montana Tech.
Rogers and Dudley are close to marketing the “pararescue” simulator, a project due late in 2015. The simulator incorporates practical training in chest tube insertions, intubations, IV starts, burn care, wound care and fracture care.
“We’re a tech company way out on the leading edge,” said Rogers. “We take other peoples’ technology and we tweak it.”
Their private, nonprofit National Center for Health Care Informatics, founded in 2005, manages health-care-related Internet technology data, deftly combining education with health care. While not a division of Tech, it is housed on campus.
Rogers and Dudley are groundbreakers, too: they created Tech’s informatics degree program, the science of managing data and information as it applies to health care. It is the first undergraduate program of its kind in the nation.
They shared inside tips mixed with homespun advice at the conference hosted by Headwaters RC&D.
Potential clients often confuse the two businessmen, much to their amusement. Dudley has taken phone calls asking for “Pat Ray.”
In reality, the men complement one another in the work arena.
“We’ve both got different strengths,” Dudley told the conference-goers. “We feed off each other because we have a different set of skills.”
Still, in a world of technology, they rely on constant networking to succeed.
“Our relationships help us get our foot in the door and then we kick the door down,” said Dudley, who says Rogers is the expert relationship-builder.
A staff of two and housed on campus at Montana Tech, the Pat-Ray partnership often is asked, “Why are you located in Butte?”
The answer is simple.
“Why we’re here is we’re two stubborn Butte kids raised in the same neighborhood,” said Dudley to audience laughter. “We’re just too stubborn to leave.”
Rogers brings networking skills to the table due to 20 years working in higher education at Tech. Dudley’s background lies in the administrative realm at St. James Healthcare.
“We love Butte and we love Montana,” said Rogers. “We have an amazing work force. Not only is Montana a great place to live, but we have great resources.”
Their company works with 24 subcontractors, typically hires Tech computer science majors as interns and uses temporary agency workers to bolster its staff.
Emcee Chris Parson of the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce asked the panel which issues keep them up at night.
“We’ve been fortunate,” said Dudley. “We can go to bed and on vacation … because we’ve done things right. We don’t have to look over our shoulders.”
And one of those things is helping contractors like the Air Force achieve mastery through practice on a training simulator.
“We love what we do and we really think we’re making a difference for our clients,” Rogers added.