Friday, January 27, 2012

For hospital, an exercise in ‘disaster’

Simulation boosts training, teamwork at St. Luke’s

Express Staff Writer

A training exercise Wednesday at St. Luke’s Wood River helped more than 45 participants practice their skills and improve efficiencies in their response. Participants in the simulation here are, from left, Dr. Deborah Robertson, registered nurse Leith Lickteig, Idaho Simulation Network resource team member Susie West, and David Schames, an EMT with Wood River Fire & Rescue. Photo by David N. Seelig

Rural communities have few major incidents resulting in mass casualties. For those in the medical field, the infrequency of such events means fewer instances for them to maintain proficiency in skills needed during traumatic emergencies.

A day-long simulation team-training exercise took place Wednesday at St. Luke's Wood River. About 45 people participated, plus some staff on duty.

"It went really, really well," said Marion Constable, executive director of Idaho Simulation Network.

Simulation, Constable said, is "a methodology supported by a sophisticated technology used to develop, improve and maintain clinical competency and teamwork skills."

The simulation network is a private-sector initiative led by members of academic and professional organizations, hospitals and emergency medical services.

Simulation training allows medical professionals and support staff to practice high-risk but low-frequency events through realistic scenarios. Participants can then determine if there are glitches in the system, with teamwork or in their communication.

"We learn new things. We improve," Constable said "And equally important, we unlearn things we need to unlearn in order to do our work better."

The exercise was one of six in Idaho funded by a grant from the Idaho Emergency Medical Services for Children program.

Progressive training scenarios Wednesday involved "patients"—actors as well as computer-controlled mannequins—injured in a car accident. A pregnant mother and her 5-year-old boy were treated at the scene, en route to the hospital, in the emergency department and in the delivery room.


The EMS and emergency department teams in the morning stabilized the critically injured boy, who had a ruptured spleen.

"They did a great job," Constable said.

In the afternoon scenario, labor and delivery staff performed an emergency C-section.

"They were able to save the life of the young mother and 32-week infant with their skills and rapid response," she said.

Constable said organizers carefully chose scenarios to match real life. Unfortunately, she said, "children are still unrestrained in their car seats."

Hospital staff said the training proved valuable.

"It's critically important in a rural area where you may not see this particular type of patient," said St. Luke's spokeswoman Jenny King. "We see fewer patients, so it's very critical to have this (exercise)."

Constable said the purpose of running simulations is the debrief, wherein participants review what happened, what went wrong and what could can be done better.

Details of that, however, are confidential.

"It's looking at all processes and systems and trying to perfect them," Constable said. "Ultimately, the goal is to improve patient care."

Rebecca Meany:

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