Simulation Help for All Budgets

Simulation Help for All Budgets

By Gary Heigel Jan 24, 2018

The International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH) is the world’s largest conference dedicated to healthcare simulation learning, research, and scholarship. It offers over 250 sessions in various formats, from large sessions to small, interactive immersive courses. This year’s conference was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center and hosted more than 2,700 participants and 268 vendors. 

If you teach EMS providers, then you are involved in simulation to some extent, and no matter what type or level of simulation you use, you could benefit by attending this event.

My EMS program (at Rogue Community College in Grants Pass, Ore.) doesn’t have a simulation center (yet), but we employ scenario-based simulation activities on a regular basis. I decided to attend IMSH to learn more about what’s happening in simulation today and find some affordable ways to improve our training. I know you may think simulation and affordable don’t belong in the same sentence; however, there is an encouraging and ever-growing effort within the industry to share information and help those of us who don’t have large simulation budgets. 

This year’s options included a preconference workshop on building your own low-cost task trainers. These included cricothyrotomy trainers, birthing simulators, and my favorite, the massive-vomit trainer. Most can be made with easily accessible parts for less than $20. Other sessions addressed the use of standardized patients, silicone casting and mold-making, moulage techniques, and other strategies for increasing realism at minimal cost. There is also an annual event called the Spectrum of Ideas, a three-hour session with more than 40 displays showcasing primarily low-tech, high-impact techniques and novel ways of improving simulation. 

If you have lots of money to spend, you can also do that at IMSH. Every major manikin and task-trainer manufacturer was represented, along with the latest and greatest tools in virtual- and augmented-reality technology. The level of realism and capabilities of some of these tools are mind-boggling and caused me to ponder where our training will be in the years ahead. The opportunity to handle and compare numerous options is a huge benefit when making tough decisions about where to spend dollars wisely.

It was great to see EMS with such a significant presence at this event. Hospital-based simulation centers are a much larger market, but there were numerous classes, workshops, and vendor displays addressing EMS-specific needs. EMS educators have an opportunity to influence the future and benefit from the activities of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, and I encourage you to consider joining this group. 

The EMS Affinity Group (one of many focus groups) currently has more than 1,400 members, and we are able to share ideas and resources and network with others involved in EMS simulation education. Even if you are not ready to join, you can create a profile on the SSH site and see some available resources.

I returned from this conference with an updated (and significantly expanded) wish list but also with a much better idea of what I will purchase when the funds are available. I also have plans to build several low-cost tools that will provide immediate benefits for my students. I had some great networking opportunities, shared some great information, and met several colleagues with whom I look forward to partnering with in the future. IMSH 2019 will be in San Antonio next January—I hope to see you there.

Gary Heigel is chair of the Emergency Services Department and director of the paramedic program at Rogue Community College in Southern Oregon. He has been a paramedic since 1984 and has extensive experience in both urban and rural EMS systems. He has been a paramedic, field training officer, field supervisor, flight medic, operations director, and full-time educator since 2004. He has presented at regional, state, and national EMS conferences, written for national publications, and worked as an EMS expert witness. In 2014 Gary was honored as the Oregon EMS Educator of the Year.

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