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Wednesday, 18 December 2013 16:47

Hal helps students compete in the most Amazing Race against time

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"Hal S" lies on a table, in a cold, white/greyish room where a microphone is high on a wall.

One can hear him breath heavy as he lies motionless. Then once in a while you can hear the unmistakable and unforgettable loud click of his eyelids. Whaaa?
Hal is actually a high-tech mannequin which is the simulator at the Health Studies Division at the Medicine Hat College. Hal is probably tired after dealing with nursing and paramedic studies constantly all day, every school day since 2008 when the college was able to secure a grant to acquire the simulator. However, it’s more than just a mannequin which allows students to poke with needles for injections or intravenous.
Brittany Gold, the simulation technologist who was there the last year and a half, can control whatever scenario is required or desired.
Hal’s functions including heart rate, pupil dilation and whether is he is suffering a reaction from a drug overdose. It also allows Gold or whomever the controller is to “voice” scenarios. The voice simulator can allow the controller to be an elderly man in one instant to an intoxicated one in the next.
Gold or whomever is monitoring the situation has access to a computer which not only controls the heart rate, breathing rate, etc., it actually monitors and rates how well the student is doing such tasks as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
“It can work on scenarios involving heart failure, impalement, we impale objects into them, bruising, shattered pelvic bones, choking scenarios.”
Matthew Jubelius, manager of Health Simulation Division of Health Studies at the College, says the simulator is an invaluable tool for the students.
On the one hand, the instructors completely control the scenarios as Hal can be whatever kind of patient you want him to be. Because of this, the student can work on whatever they need to without fear of injuring a real subject and is far more lifelike and closer to what real life is like. It’s a flexible model and is natural to work on.
“You can show what you know,” explains Jubelius for two levels of nursing students. “Really, the learner has the driver’s seat.
“Oh wow, I didn’t see that before, it ties the big picture and they learn what is really important to them.”
Even the room can be changed to fit any scenario required. Piped in background noise such as dogs barking, traffic plus changing the simulation room with props etc can give the feel for students of various scenarios which adds to the students’ overall experience. Gold can change the lighting and can even add dogs barking.
Both Gold and Jubelius say there’s a lot of never-ending and constant planning, collaboration and communication amongst instructors. It all depends on not only the curriculum, but what the students in the different programs need. Those within the same program will also need to work on different aspects.
“Aware of the psychological impact, being within the scenario,” explains Jubelius.
“It’s four (scenarios) in a day, I’m changing his make up and getting him ready and the scene ready to go ... planning is key” adds Gold. “The software captures what our learner thinks is happening.”
As part of the training and to add even more pressure, Hal was included in a competitive exercise for the paramedic students.
Those future paramedics participated in an Amazing Race type of competition. There were stations set up in the third level of the B Wing foyer, the area beside the coffee shop, the trades area and of course the simulation centre.
With the help of some alumni, general senior students, instructors of course Hal, the paramedics were asked to go to different stations in order to diagnose and treat “patients” suffering from a variety of ailments. It was described as the “scenario training with high fidelity patient simulation.”
It went extremely well and Jubelius was pleased with how it unfolded.
“Every experience was different and now it helps them grow,” explains Jubelius. “How do you perform under stress? Before intervening, we see how well they can handle it.”
Jubelius says the needs have expanded from years ago and the technology is better. Both students and community partners are pleased with the training levels, the experience the students receive and everyone is satisfied students are getting enough different situations.
“I’m very proud and very passionate about it,” explained Jubelius of the program and of Hal. It gives the ability to celebrate the success of the student.
“It shows how (the students) exactly got there. It’s gone leaps and bounds ... the sky is the limit.”

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor