Presence United Samaritans Medical Center recently acquired several HAL patient simulators to begin their mobile simulation education lab which trains EMS professionals across Illinois. Dr. Kurt Bloomstrand, Bob Holloway, and Les Mennenga discuss the benefits simulation training with the high-fidelity HAL full-body manikin and CPR trainers have had on the state’s Fire and EMS departments.
The full-body adult HAL patient simulator (not pictured) has some of the most advanced features ever seen in a patient simulator. HAL’s features are possible because he is built using advanced robotics that allows him to simulate a variety of physical reactions, medical symptoms, and life-threatening emergencies. Furthermore, HAL’s tetherless and wireless design and 6-hour battery life allow for point-of-injury care, transport, and patient handoff training.
HAL has reactive eyes that can blink and pupils that can dilate, he can simulate various pulses, his chest rises as he breaths, advanced airway techniques can be performed on him, he can simulate lifelike responses to medications, and he can be placed on real medical equipment. While these are just a few of the features that make HAL so impressive, they are vital features to help train first responders and other EMS professionals on how to treat patients.
Since a large percentage of calls received by fire departments are related to EMS, HAL is a vital tool to help EMS professionals accurately respond to each situation and provide better care. HAL is controlled wirelessly on a Surface Pro tablet which allows for greater realism and for greater varieties of scenarios to occur. Through simulation, EMS professionals can rehearse the skills they need to deal with the various injuries they might encounter in the real world.
For example, the mini-HAL CPR trainer (pictured above) can be used in any life support training curriculum. The all-in-one skills trainer allows EMS professionals to practice how to assess normal/abnormal breathing, perform quality CPR, proper intubation, delivering defibrillation, and recognize the return of spontaneous circulation.
The mini-HAL CPR trainer measures how deep and fast a practitioner is performing chest compressions and gives them immediate feedback. If the compressions are not successful, the practitioner can go back and practice how to perform the technique correctly before they try it on a real patient.
The full-body HAL provides realistic feedback to medical interventions so practitioners can be immersed in a simulated emergency situation. EMS professionals build up empathy for patients and develop their communication and diagnostic skills through practice on a simulator. HAL’s lifelike physiological and neurological features like speech sounds and eye movements can help these professionals to diagnose the cues and symptoms exhibited by patients suffering from trauma.
Since HAL has preprogrammed speech functions and live audio (so an instructor can provide a voice for HAL) EMS professionals can communicate with HAL so they can practice how to present information calmly and with a sense of confidence even though they might be in an emergency situation. By using HAL’s speech function, they can practice how to give a patient directions and use direct language to put a patient at ease and avoid unnecessary stress or a miscommunication.
Sharp diagnostic skills are also valuable to EMS professionals as not all patients will be able to communicate their ailment and not all ailments will be immediately noticeable. By practicing how to pick up on visual cues like checking the eyes for proper movement and dilation, an EMS professional can reveal serious neurological ailments caused by trauma.
Also, since the full-body HAL can support real defibrillation with real energy, EMS professionals can practice using the same equipment they would use on a human patient. Practitioners can practice how to monitor, pace, and cardiovert a patient in the field which is one of the most important lifesaving techniques in the EMS playbook.
Before simulation, students had to talk through scenarios and discuss how they would respond to a certain medical emergency. Now, students can practice what they have learned and hone their skills before they are sent out into the real world. Students get live feedback so they can identify weak spots and correct them.
It is better for EMS trainees to practice on a simulator rather than a real patient, so they do not run the risk of harming a real patient. Given enough time to practice and rehearse, EMS professionals will gain a well-rounded set of skills they can use to respond to any medical emergency. Better training will ensure better results for patients since they can be diagnosed quickly and accurately thus saving more lives.