First aid gets a dose of reality
THEY say you'll never know what you're going to do in an emergency until it happens.
That may be the case, but TraumaSim director Nola Pearce aims to take you as close as possible to the real thing, to help medical workers, firefighters and transport operators alike prepare for any situation life may throw at them.
For more than nine years Nola's West Australian company has been using lifelike simulations to train various industries, including the Australian Defence Force, to prepare for emergencies.
Now some of the state's road transport operators and associations are looking to see how they could use TraumaSim to train drivers, who are often some of the first on the scene of major crashes.
"Truck drivers unfortunately happen to be the people that come across these incidents first in remote areas, of course it would help if they are trained up," Nola said.
"Having the confidence to deal with an emergency situation makes a huge impact."
Nola, who began her career as a nurse, said the move to first aid and then simulation training was sparked by a passion to teach.
"There is a big difference from classroom training to actually practising skill in the moment, I always wanted to give my students something more realistic to practice on," she said.
"I am passionate about preparing people for that moment in their life, people will never know how they will react to something unless they practice.
"When something is real, people sweat, people panic, their heartbeat goes up so the psychology of the situation is a huge part of it."
After finding a huge emergency simulation market in the United States, Nola began to incorporate it in her teachings.
By providing realistic injuries and using live role players or mannequins, the TraumaSim team enables clients to practice their skills in a safe, yet realistic, environment.
To assist in the realism a number of amputees work as actors with the team, with the help of prosthetic limbs, and recreate realistic injuries that can be found on specific work sites.
"We add sounds and set up the situation to be as realistic as possible with props," Nola said.
To prepare, the team is briefed on building a particular situation, whether that be a plane crash or a traffic accident, and construct injuries that would be specific to the incident.
TraumaSim also uses prosthetic babies with a remote-controlled cry to train workers in assisting infants.
"We can also put smells into the scenario, for situations like an incident with dangerous goods where there might be a leak of chemicals," Nola said.
"That way the simulation prompts safety checks that may need to be run before they are able to assist.
"Some people struggle but that highlights a need for training, we have some soldiers on military exercises faint at the sight of blood.
"What we are often testing is how people work together as a team and work out what doesn't work well and what they need to fix."
Nola has also begun manufacturing prosthetic severed limbs as part of the business.
"There is a fair bit of plumbing inside the prosthetics, as they replicate the blood flow they may deal with," she explained.
"It is a good way to practice how to tourniquet, and learn how tight it needs to be to stop the bleeding.
The business has even gained business internationally.
"We are exporting a few, at the moment."
"They are all hand made so it was a bit strange when I first started out, I was set up in my lounge room painting severed limbs," she laughed.
Now the company has grown and expanded to an industrial workshop with part time staff.
Top safety tips
Keep up to date with first aid training
Practice first aid skills
Carry a first aid kit
Keep yourself safe