A blog that covers the growing world of Medical Simulation and encompasses other simulation environments and technologies.

Monday, March 5, 2007

What's Going On?

Sometimes as a simulation specialist you have to climb behind your AV rack to retrace your signal path. Digging into the dark corners where all the cords blend into a nest is not fun but necessary from time to time. Every time I introduce a new piece of equipment into the control room or lab I do so temporarily, because I know that there is a possibility of moving it somewhere more appropriate. For example, if you upgrade your video mixing system - will the new mixers take up desk space, get racked up or sit on something else? We don't know how something is going to "fit" until we use it for a while in the "flow" of a simulation. Once a new piece becomes "fixed" in the cramped space, I realign the cabling more permanently. It just so happens that with all the upgrading I've been doing, I've been visiting the back of my media desk a few times this winter. And here's what's been upgraded, purchased, fixed and/or enhanced this semester:

1. Installed the new video mixers for enhanced playback of vital signs monitor. A"superimposed" image from a camera or monitor lays over the main camera view. Both SimMan and HPS are hooked into the recording and video matrix this way so it goes direct to DVD and the classrooms that way too. Students and facilitators see the action in the room and also see a continuously changing vitals monitor "on top of" the main camera image.

2. The METI HPS systems have been upgraded and now support drug editing, so you (or a researcher) can create a new drug or upgrade to a new one on the market as it becomes available to METI.

3. Created a temporary debriefing room/observation area by running AV cable to the Nursing lab across the hall and attaching a video projector to it. Voila instant debrief room! Maine Med and Nursing are currently using this space.

4. Installed and tested the new METI ACLS scenario case files for the HPS. They are pretty excellent from what I can tell. This gives us the ability to do high fidelity ACLS with the HPS simulators-both at the same time. The case files are diverse and offer some unique challenges and excellent worksheets with each case.

5. Repaired several glitches and problems with one of our METI HPS simulators. The problems were wear and tear issues involving replacing pneumatic tubing and electrical pieces. But I also had an incredibly long winded affair with a lung that was staying super inflated. Throughout the process of trying to zero in on the reason why it was never releasing the pressure in the right lung, I learned a lot about the HPS rack and the pneumatic system in detail.

I ended up changing out several key components in the body and the rack. I think there were seven pieces changed (including the master Linux computer) in all before it turned out to be a very small pneumatic sensor thingy. Needless to say I'm not afraid of anything on the HPS now. A VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU TO CURT FROM METI. I couldn't have done it without his patient help.

6. Installed a voice transformer. This little toy is fun. A female can sound like a male or vice versa. Also an actor or facilitator can speak through it and sound like a child or an elderly person. We've found that it helps the "reality" factor for students. If they hear an "old man voice" coming out of a patient who's supposed to be an old man this is better than hearing a woman trying to imitate and old man. Or vice versa. I think we need another one, maybe two.
He he he he....

7. Implemented wireless headphones into the control room. The reasoning is simple - less wires running across the room is better. The thing is, a control room tends to be an electromagnetically heavy zone. Lots of waves criss crossing the space. We have found that the headphones work but because there are so many pieces of equipment running in the immediate vicinity, the range for hearing is quite small. If you get up and walk beyond 8 feet from the cradle/transceiver the sound cuts off completely. However no cross talk problems have turned up yet.

8. Implemented walkie talkies for facilitator/actor communications. These will be used so that the control room folks can discreetly "control" an actor or faculty member with voice cues. For example, the person in the lab could be playing the girlfriend of a man who's been in a motor vehicle accident. She can stay in character and take cues from the facilitator in the control room as they say, "Okay, now start getting agitated and question the PA's decision making". The person playing the girlfriend has an ear bud in and can hear the instructions and act appropriately. Also during busy days the use of the walkie talkies helps keep track of your colleagues. Multi uses for multi-taskers.

9. OH, Yeah...started this blog. (And it's taking on it's own life.)
10. Ordered and installed new emergency bedding. Now the sims are all mobile.
So those are the larger updates to our little sim universe. This summer there are plans for even more "stuff" to be introduced to the program. I'll keep folks in the loop during the summer.
Seeya next week.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Welcome New Simulationists...


In the lab recently we've been experiencing some growth with new members and contributors joining the simulation team. We are proud to welcome officially Lucy Bauer, Dawne-Marie Dunbar, Courtney Clark and Chris Bowe of MMC ED! The experience these folks have brought to the sim program recently has made every simulation thereafter that much more realistic.

Lucy with students and METI HPS.

Lucy Bauer has been with the Nurse Anesthesia Program for several months now and has taken the OR scenarios to the next level. As a facilitator she is engaging and thoughtful. She plays the roles and does the voices whilst orchestrating the cases she has "scripted" from her real life experience as a nurse anesthetist. She has been known to scream wildly as a pregnant patient or cry or moan as a nervous, anesthetized pre-op patient. During the scenarios she will sometimes run back and forth from control room to lab, each time as a new role. She teaches through simulation with conviction and wows her students regularly. A true one woman show.

Dawne-Marie with her plastic friend.

Dawne-Marie Dunbar has quickly infused her energy into the Nursing Program. Her OR experience is invaluable and will help shape the nursing sims to come. Before long, like Cynthia Morris, she'll be running the cameras, doing the patient voice and answering the phone as the doc! Phew...Oh yeah, and debreif too. She's implementing new cases for the Nursing program and learning all this new technology. Another sim geek in training!

Chris debreifing with the defibber!

We have reached an agreement with Maine Medical Center's ER and Anesthesia Department and will be providing the simulation expertise, space and services to facilitate the training of their residents. Needless to say in the first week with Chris Bowe and his ER residents we did some pretty intense scenarios(can't elaborate because some residents haven't been through yet) and I had to quickly control very specific changes on the HPS ....which as some of you know is no easy task. But we persevered and have been training his folks twice a month. At any rate, Chris has been wonderful to work with and provided me with a wealth of knowledge in the few short weeks it's been since we started simming. We welcome Maine Medical Center and their tremendous reputation to our team.

Courtney Clark
is our new work study buddy and she's cool because she helps us do the jobs we can't get psyched to do alone ...or something like that. We'd like to welcome her to the team as well. Hopefully we can rope her into playing a role in a scenario soon too. Courtney's in the nursing program and listens to loud rock on her headphone thangs.

Again, thanks to all the new players who've been making it fun here in our little corner of the sim universe.

*Next post will be coming very soon and it'll be technically oriented. -Todd