MU Health Trains Physicians in Simulation Event

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COLUMBIA - Rock Bride Memorial State Park looked anything but normal with hikers oozing fake blood, groaning out like they were in pain while strewn out across the rock-filled stream.  Others peeked around trees, anxious and  worried as Boone County firefighters worked frantically to treat the "injured."

Anyone at the park Thursday morning when multiple people had to be "rescued" and airlifted away for treatment would have wondered what was going on.

It was a series of injury simulations arranged by MU Health Care and no one at the park was really hurt while participating in the event along the Devil's Icebox Trail. 

University of Missouri Health Care doctors and staff got out of the hospital Thursday morning for the wilderness-related emergency training.

Along with the Boone County Fire protection district, the Staff for Life Helicopter Service and the MU Shelden Clinical Simulation Center, doctors going through residency were able to view a variety of simulations and procedures in this annual event.

The goal: creating more well-rounded healthcare professionals.

Chris Sampson, the Emergency Medicine program director of MU Health said, "This is a training event for our residents to experience what it's like to treat patients outside of the normal environment in the emergency department."

Sampson said, due to the nature of the job, it's rare that physicians are able to see what happens before patients arrive at the hospital. The training gives them an opportunity to change this. 

"They get to run through various scenarios with these patients, taking care of them, both outside in the environment and then later on in the emergency department," Sampson said.

The event took at least six months to plan and extensive collaboration with the MU Shelden Clinical Simulation Center.

Staff from the center portrayed hurt hikers and sported a variety of fake injuries that were glued on and covered in red paint for firefighters from the Boone County Fire Protection District to treat and assist.

Physicians were then able to observe and assess the real-life simulations in order to determine the best way to treat the simulated patients. Although the situations and injuries were planned and simulated, the frantic and tense air seemed anything but fake as physicians, staff, and firefighters all crowded around the patients, desperate to save the patient.

Dena Higbee, the director of the MU Shelden Clinical Simulation Center, said the event helps residents learn all that goes into the health care process.

"It's nice for the residency program to be able to offer this outside the ER's sterile environment, for them to really see what it really looks like on the other side of the kind of patient's that they receive in the ER," she said.

Nicholas Cox, a physician in residency who attended the event, said he thinks the information is going to be beneficial in the long-run.

"The further along you get in your education, you realize the things you really need to be prepared for and one hundred percent ready for, are some of the rarest things that you see," Cox said. "So things like traumatic arrests, open fractures, both of which we've gotten experience with today is going to help us make the right decisions at the right time when the time comes in the hospital."

Cox said, since injuries like gunshot wounds are more prevalent inner city areas, he's glad the training is tailored to the more rural areas of Missouri. 

MU Health Care has partnered with the simulation center in the past for training events, including indoor weekly training sessions at the ER. Thursday's event is part of an annual partnership between the simulation center and MU Health Care that takes the simulations out of a hospital setting and places them in real-world situations.