Disaster simulations in medical environments

14 March 2020

Simulating an incident in a medical environment is a job in itself. Especially in these kind of delicate environments, a staging technician is expected to create a super realistic image without causing damage to sensitive medical equipment. In addition, the continuity of the medical shelter must be guaranteed. If necessary, it must be possible to provide medical care even during the exercise.

Did you know that FireWare staging technicians did an internship at Meander Medical Centre in Amersfoort, the Netherlands? It was done to get a picture of what actually happens during an operation. Where could dilemmas be found? What does an surgery actually look like? What exactly must be simulated? The staging specialists have actively started working with these kind of questions.

Scenarios with practice smoke

If used correctly, the practice smoke of FireWare is safe. An operating room or other delicate room is not the environment to make use of a smoke machine for a while. The last thing you want is the HEPA-filters in the air handling units becoming saturated or damaged. Therefore, proper dosing is of great importance. After all, the amount of smoke must also match the learning objectives. A short blast with a machine that gives a compact cloud of smoke that slowly falls apart, gives the best result. In such scenarios, FireWare often chooses a small smoke machine like the battery-operated Cirrus. An additional advantage is that this machine is easy to hide. For example, hide it under the rug or behind the anaesthesia column. With the wireless remote control, the machine can also be activated properly. In combination with Pandora's Box, it is also possible to simulate an (oxygen) gas leak and a seat of fire. This puts everything in focus!

Scenarios without practice smoke

However, working with (a lot of) practice smoke in a medical environment is not always possible. Think of exercises in operational departments. Or in some laboratories. A Nebula AR smoke simulation mask then enables you to create the quake of a fire. Certainly in combination with a Phoenix Silkflame and a Fusion audio player. Additionally, a practice extinguisher filled with air enables the student to make a "real" bet without using water! But even a hint of Burning Smell Spray can bring the smell of fire into a room. Enough to trigger the team.

Another point to take into account is the presence of smoke detectors in a medical environment. It often happens that an exercise room is perfectly suited to use practice smoke, but that it is not possible to switch off the smoke detectors for the exercise. As you can imagine, it is not always desirable that the "real" fire alarm goes off during an exercise. The entire hospital than would be affected by the exercise! This too can be a choice to opt for a Nebula.

Large-scale exercises

Matter of course, large multidisciplinary exercises can also be held in a hospital. Clearing a wing of an operational care centre is a tough job, where many challenges come together. A good image helps to achieve a maximum practice result!

FireWare simulated this blazing fire in the dialysis department of the Meander Medical Centre. The rest of the hospital was fully operational during this exercise. A tough job with many technical challenges. For example, the radiology department was nearby. The strong magnetic field of the MRI-scanners should of course not lead to incidents. With a computer-controlled connecting, it was ensured that a realistic smoke and fire image was created that would suit a fire that broke out. But at the same time it had to be prevented that the practice smoke could be sucked in by the air treatment. This is truly specialist work.

More recently, our staging specialists supported a large-scale fire drill in a brand-new building of a Danish hospital. The purpose of the exercise was to test whether the escape plan worked as expected, and whether employees were able to perform their tasks and exercise their authority. In collaboration with our Danish distributor Optisafe, we were responsible for the staging of the fires  which pushed the emergency services crews to their limits.

Do it yourself or outsource?

In a hospital or other medical environment you can easily create a nice basic staging. With the right simulation equipment it even is not that difficult at all. With a combination of a Pandora’s box, a Cirrus and practice extinguishers on air, fantastic scenarios can already be realized. And with the Nebulas you can also train super realistic without use of practice smoke. And should it be bigger? Consider expanding the set with a Phoenix or a Training set Seat of Fire with the Fusion.

If the exercises become even larger or take place in complicated departments, it may be a good idea to outsource the staging of the exercise. The FireWare team has extensive experience and a large package of staging tools to create a realistic training environment in virtually any situation. The scope of FireWare, and its dealers, is also limited solely to staging. The trainer always provides the training, the running of the exercise and the evaluation. FireWare only helps with a bit of imaging.

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