Simulated lab tests firefighters skills
Evanston Fire Department captain Martin Rafacz (center background) and firefighter/paramedic Anthony Yee (far right) work Oct. 23 with their fellow firefighters/paramedics on a training exercise at the NorthShore Center for Simulation and Innovation at Ev
Updated: December 2, 2012 6:14AM
EVANSTON — Evanston firefighter-paramedics have many procedures that guide them in responding to the emergency situations they face daily.
But what if circumstances are switched? What if, while treating a heart attack victim, the patient’s heart rate drops? What if electric stimulation doesn’t work? What if the move produces a different result, and the patient’s heart begins to beat faster?
What if the woman in labor isn’t going to make it out her home’s door to an ambulance?
Evanston Fire Department officials and medical staff asked those questions last week during paramedic training at Evanston Hospital’s NorthShore Center for Simulation and Innovation.
“We give the scenarios based on the standard operating procedures of real-life incidents that can occur in the field that will challenge them,’’ said Division Chief Dwight Hohl, who heads up the department’s life-safety services. “Basically what we do is take a medical scenario, like someone having a heart attack and then move the patient from one SOP (standard operating procedure) to another.”
In the heart attack example, officials began with paramedics pulling up to the scene in a call where the person complained of chest pains. They’re supposed to evaluate the patient and hook him up to a cardiac monitor machine that, among other things, takes a picture of the heart and identifies where the damage is.
The firefighters worked under the center’s medical team supervised by Dr. Jared Novack, the NorthShore University HealthSystem’s emergency medicine physician.
The men and women of the department currently do an excellent job of providing care to the community, Novack said. The center tries to “take your teamwork skills and make them even better,” Novack said.
To that aim, staff members actually record the sessions on video and then play them back on a 6-by-8 foot screen. Watching the replay, Novack said the goal is to get participants to talk about their decision making.
A decision to use one medicine over another at the scene may not necessarily be wrong. The idea of the sessions is to provide “food for thought,’’ he said.
Evanston Fire Chief Greg Klaiber was at the hospital to watch some of the sessions.
“We think this is real beneficial to our paramedics,” Klaiber said. “We get to practice our skills with the simulation training, which is high-tech, state-of-the art and it’s close to the next best thing, which is actual work on the patient.”
With the immediate feedback, “we can do what we need to do to improve,” he said.
Part of the scenario focused on effective communication.
“One of the things that was noted by physicians was the quality of communication by our paramedics — how very professionally we communicate with each other and how we handle a call,” Klaiber said.
The department is looking at also using St. Francis Hospital for simulation training.