Skills development at a paramedic accident simulation centre

Handling a virtual incident is no substitute for ‘real life’ training, complete with crashed vehicles and casualties, as John Donaghy explains

Handling a virtual incident is no substitute for ‘real life’ training, complete with crashed vehicles and casualties, as John Donaghy explains.

Abstract

Practice simulation in acute and pre-hospital care settings is a growing area of interest for clinicians and health educationalists, and there is much evidence to support its use (Pike and O’Donnell 2010). Most simulation is delivered through computer-aided software or in virtual environments, however last year the University of Hertfordshire opened an accident simulation centre which is an outdoor facility that offers pre- and post-registration paramedics the opportunity to experience a range of scenarios in a ‘real life’ but secure environment. This article describes how the centre enables students to apply theory to practice in complex situations, such as managing patients injured in road traffic collisions.

Paramedic practitioners' scope of practice, in pre-hospital and out-of-hospital environments, requires a comprehensive understanding and application of a range of clinical procedures. These procedures require paramedics to work autonomously or as part of multidisciplinary teams, and to take a multi system-based approach to managing patients’ conditions. Paramedics are also expected to refer patients to alternative care pathways based on clinical assessment, for example to their GP surgery, walk-in centres, minor injury units or hospitals (College of Paramedics 2015). In addition they often work within multidisciplinary teams to manage patients who have sustained multiple injuries following traumatic events, such as road traffic collisions.

The accident simulation centre at the University of Hertfordshire is a practical, ‘real life’, safe working environment in which student paramedics, and other healthcare students, can experience some aspects of pre-hospital care and contextualise their theoretical studies. It is an outdoor facility and has two damaged motor vehicles, a motor cycle, a bicycle, an ambulance and associated clinical apparatus, and manikins.

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This article was first published in print in Emergency Nurse: volume 23, issue 9

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