New High-Fidelity Simulation Lab Prepares Air Medics for Uncommon Medical Emergencies

Vanguard Air Care author

Published August 10, 2021 09:19:56am

Air Ambulance Professionals deal with a wide variety of medical calls, and when real life emergencies unfold on an aircraft, there is little room for error.

Vanguard Air Care_Sim Lab

To better prepare its teams for every type of medical emergency in the air or on the ground, Vanguard Air Care recently opened its state-of-the-art high-fidelity simulation lab at its Winnipeg, Manitoba base at the Richardson International Airport.

Designed to resemble the kind of remote northern nursing station Vanguard routinely flies to on missions from its four bases around the province, the simulation lab features a sophisticated robotic mannikin named HAL© that behaves and responds to medical interventions just like a real patient.

“It’s going to make for a safer, more effective practice because it allows the paramedic or nurse to make mistakes in a controlled environment and learn from those mistakes without having to practice on a real patient,” says Director of Air Ambulance Services Ross Bale.

“In fact, we want them to make mistakes. We’d much rather they learn from mistakes here than in the field.”

Hal can be programmed to present with a wide range of maladies and trauma scenarios, and is connected to an advanced monitoring system that provides real time data on vital signs. The lab also has a presentation screen for teaching as well as various medical equipment for practicing specific types of medical interventions.

Clinical Operations Manager Jeff Bedosky runs Vanguard’s high-fidelity simulation lab training program and is excited to be already working with staff to practice important life-saving skills and emergency scenarios with the new sim lab.

“The vast majority of the patients we tend to see are medically stable,” says Bedosky.

“But we also end up flying patients who are much sicker. And we don’t see those types of patients all that often. So with the lab, we can replicate or simulate those types of cases that aren’t as often seen and are a bit more complex.”

“We are accessing skillsets or medications that we don’t routinely make use of. So, if we can do that well in a simulated setting, our staff become more confident and more competent. In the end it benefits our patients because we can do more to help them turn a corner to a better outcome and get them safely to where they need to be,” Bedosky says.

Air ambulance professionals are responsible for transporting and providing life-saving care patients to hospitals and other medical facilities. The conditions of patients can change suddenly and quickly, sometimes while in the air. It’s a big responsibility and a lot is riding on the air ambulance team’s shoulders.

That’s why as a private company and division of Fast Air, Vanguard Air Care understands the importance of investing in continuous education and training for its most important asset: the staff.

“The simulation lab is a true representation of what our culture is all about,” says Bale.

“Continuous education and investment in training is very important to us because it allows us to keep up to date with the latest practices, latest research, latest technologies that are out there.”

“In our environment, anything can change and you can’t pull over to the next hospital and you there is no extra EMS ground support unit to come and assist you. You’re in the air. And if something happens, it’s on you and your team member to make appropriate decisions, utilize your critical thinking skills, and provide those life-saving skills and approaches to assure the best outcomes for the patient,” Bale says.

While the simulation lab is currently being used exclusively to train in-house staff, Vanguard Air Care plans to eventually roll out programming that supports the wider paramedic and nursing community and other first responder agencies in Manitoba.