Home' Link : Learn Issue No. 1 Contents Losing the odd patient or two is no big deal for
paramedic trainees at CQUniversity as they treat
the ' victims' of traumatic accidents.
Not that anyone's life will be in actual danger; in
fact, the students' use of the latest hi-tech mannequins in
simulation exercises at the University is likely to help prevent
mistakes in real emergency scenarios when they graduate.
While mannequins have long been used as training devices
for health students, perhaps none has ever been as life-like
as the SimMan model that CQUniversity has acquired from
Laerdal, a global manufacturer of advanced life support
training products and emergency medical equipment.
"(It) can basically do everything except get up and walk
away, so it can sweat, it can have frothy sputum coming
out of its mouth, it can vomit," says Anthony Weber,
senior lecturer and program leader in Paramedic Science
at CQUniversity. "You can even have all the different heart
sounds and lung sounds with it."
The University's Bachelor of Paramedic Science program
has proven popular in its first year, with 86 enrolments.
Weber says students can use the mannequins to practise all
the procedures they would normally perform on a patient.
For example, if they want to replicate an event such as
an amputated leg, the mannequins can be programmed
accordingly. They can also respond as a human patient
might to various drugs and dosages. Using 3G technology,
students can even 'communicate' directly with the
mannequin; for example, to ask the 'patient' about their
"I can actually speak through the headphones of the
mannequin, so the mannequin will give all the answers to
(students)," explains Weber.
Professionals such as surgeons, pilots and defence force
personnel have long used simulated learning to minimise
errors in the field. As the technology evolves and improves,
the practice is becoming even more widespread.
At CQUniversity, the paramedic students are not the only
ones benefiting from simulation, with aviation, medical
imaging and nursing courses also incorporating such
components to enhance student training and prepare them
for the real world.
Students are looking to hone their skills in a safe
environment using simulation as part of new courses,
the Bachelor of Medical Imaging and Bachelor of Medical
Sonography/Graduate Diploma of Medical Sonography.
Medical Imaging students cannot practise performing
CT scanning on human patients because it would involve
exposing them to radiation. Instead, the students can
safely conduct examinations using a state-of-the-art
'phantom' patient worth about A$95,000 which has
synthetic anatomical features and internal organs. All the
same, the Kyoto Phantom equipment has its limits.
"Your Kyoto Phantom isn't going to say it's
claustrophobic; it wants to leave the room, it's a little
too compliant!" quips Kelly Spuur, head of program for
Medical Imaging and Medical Sonography at CQUniversity.
However, she's confident graduates will be better qualified
as a result of the technology being incorporated into the
"We can simulate, in a controlled environment, what a
normal clinic would be like," Spuur says. "Usually in other
programs at other universities, CT training is something
that occurs outside of the undergraduate environment.
You get your degree, you head off into the workplace and
then, depending on your workplace, it might be a year or
two before you get anywhere near a CT scanner to actually
become proficient in it."
CQUniversity has also been allocated a learning and
teaching grant for a research project utilising MASK ED
(KRS Simulation), which brings an innovative approach
to nursing education. Developed by award-winning
CQUniversity academic Dr Kerry Reid-Searl, the simulation
involves the instructor dressing in Hollywood-style silicone
masks and wearable body parts and then adopting the
guise of an elderly patient as students learn about clinical
procedures and appropriate patient interaction. The
approach is part of her pioneering work showing how role-
play can enhance learning experiences.
"... it can sweat, it can
have frothy sputum
coming out of its
mouth, it can vomit.
You can even have
all the different heart
sounds and lung sounds
with it." -- Anthony Weber,
senior lecturer and program
leader in Paramedic Science
Anthony Weber and Melissa Hulme check SimMan's vitals
PHOTOS: PETER LAWRENCE
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