Doctors in Blackpool’s Victoria Hospital are constantly pushed to the limit trying to save lives in high pressure situations.
But for the hospital’s 71 third and fourth year medical students that pressure is tenfold as a new piece of technology is being embraced to test their life saving skills.
It’s 11am on a Thursday morning, and a 34-year-old man has been rushed into Blackpool Victoria Hospital in full cardiac arrest.
First on the scene is a group of final year medical students, who have to assess the patient, Sam Smith, and treat him.
But Mr Smith is not admitted into the hospital’s Emergency Department – he is a dummy set up on The Vic’s simulation suite to help medical students learn and practice their clinical skills.
Medics praise the availability of this new life saving technology that means trainee doctors can practice diagnosing life threatening conditions before coming face to face with a real patient.
Less than a minute after he is paged to the mock emergency, Dennis Padi, 22, arrives out of breath from running.
He finds clinical skills facilitators Jo Halliwell and Clare Walden resuscitating the fake patient.
After taking a moment to assess the scene, he checks the emergency algorithm – a step-by-step guide in treating emergency patients – and sets up the room’s defibrillator.
It’s then that student Viola Zuokumor, 25, arrives and checks over Mr Smith’s chart.
She’s followed by Charlie Daniel, 26, who immediately takes on the role of lead doctor.
Together the three try and bring around their patient, shocking him with the defibrillator, and giving him adrenaline to try and restart his heart.
After a short while the final student, Sean O’Beirn, 22, arrives.
After three shocks to the heart, Mr Smith’s vitals stabilise and his heart starts beating. He begins to groan thanks to the team of technicians who are watching behind a two-way mirror while controlling what they call Sim Man with a computer and a headset.
Once the drill is over, the students are given the chance to watch their performance, which has been recorded, and hear feedback.
During the debrief Dennis said: “I was close to the simulation suite when the beeper went off, but I was still praying I wasn’t going to be the first one there. When I arrived I didn’t really know what to do.” Heather praised him for turning to the algorithm.
She said: “That’s the best thing you could have done when you are our of your comfort zone.”
The team agreed to brush up on their algorithms, familiarise themselves with emergency medical equipment and learn quicker routes around the hospital.
Simulation emergencies are carried out regularly at the hospital.
Students know at the beginning of the week they will be called to take part in a drill and are given a pager which can go off anytime, between 8.30am and 3pm.
The students have no idea when, or what scenario they will be faced with.
Jo said: “These are skills we would expect our doctors to have. If we have an emergency on our wards we want to know we have people who can recognise the deterioration of a patient and treat them quickly.
“If they get it wrong during a simulation we brief them on how they should have done it. Some people do find it difficult, but it’s necessary.
“This way their learning in the appropriate environment without putting a real patient at risk.
Clinical resuscitation officer Heather Jordan. who also took part in the exercise, said: “What’s great about Sim Man is that he is realistic – he talks to you, has a heart beat and has lungs that inflate.
“It makes the emergency as real as possible.”