An elderly patient arrives at the emergency department of Humboldt District Health Complex. A team of physicians and nurses kicks into action.

Dr. Mishack Zwane and RN Lisa Frank work on the mannequin.

Dr. Mishack Zwane and RN Lisa Frank work on the mannequin.

They quickly assess the patient with sepsis and manage the care as a team. Fortunately for the team of physicians and nurses, this was only a simulation in the STARS mobile education unit, and one that helped them learn a lot about how they work together. “I had some experience with a similar bus when I worked in Alberta,” says Laurie Brad Richards, clinical lead for the emergency department at the hospital. “And I was excited to work with my physician and nurse colleagues to experience this type of training together in Humboldt.”

“STARS facilitators helped us through the procedure,” says Brad Richards. “They commented on how we could improve our response and really helped us look at how we can work with other staff on the ward to include their expertise; to really move forward as a team rather than individual health-care providers.”

The STARS – Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society – mobile education unit is new to Saskatchewan but has been operating in Alberta for about 12 years. It is a new motorhome equipped to look like a typical small town hospital emergency department. And it comes complete with a patient. “The high fidelity mannequin helps us simulate all sorts of medical crises that rural health-care professionals might face occasionally, but not necessarily every day,” says Cindy Seidl, base director for STARS in Saskatoon. “This simulator allows them to practice their emergency medical skills on this highly advanced piece of equipment as though they’re treating a real live human.”

“The human patient simulators are like computerized mannequins,” said STARS Saskatchewan Vice President of Operations Ron Dufresne. “They can breathe, bleed, speak, and accurately mirror human responses to medical care, including CPR, intravenous medication, and intubation.” The mannequin can simulate everything from a heart attack to an infection.

More staff from the Humboldt District Health Centre got a chance to use their skills in the mobile education unit.

More staff from the Humboldt District Health Centre got a chance to use their skills in the mobile education unit.

The STARS crew of Mobile Education Leader Matt Hogan, and Saskatoon Health Region physician and STARS Medical Director Dr. John Froh, and Seidl, who is also a Saskatoon Health Region employee, have been pleasantly overwhelmed by the response of medical professionals to the mobile education. The stop at the Humboldt District Health Complex saw 41 employees, including physicians, nurses, and emergency medical staff, to test their skills on the mannequin.

The STARS mobile education unit.

The STARS mobile education unit.

The mobile unit cost $250-thousand and was funded through donations to STARS. Seidl says the idea is for STARS to give back to the community that has supported it by helping provide additional emergency training for health-care staff. The unit will continue traveling through Saskatchewan including several other Saskatoon Health Region hospitals over the coming months.

Brad Richards says the simulation experience with the sepsis patient was valuable to the individuals involved. “We took over the person’s airway. That task is daunting in a rural setting. We engaged in that procedure as a group. A lot of times nurses take a lot of extra education and having the physicians and nurses in the same room doing the same training was phenomenal.”