Starship staff get simulator baby

Starship staff get simulator baby

Imagine being faced with a baby, struggling to breathe. They've suffered severe trauma. Imagine you're the doctor or nurse who has to stay calm and save this life.

Auckland's Starship Hospital has just taken delivery of a special new baby -- a simulator baby, which helps to train paediatric doctors and nurses in medical emergencies.

SIM Baby is capable of recreating a raft of medical scenarios in a real-life way, from cardiac arrest to major trauma or a serious infection.

"When things happen they happen fast and they're obviously pretty serious and important.

"The challenge is to get people get enough exposure to rare things that happen, and that's why we've chosen simulation," says Starship's emergency department clinical director Dr Mike Shepherd.

Clinical teams can practise putting in breathing tubes and drips, giving fluid and medication, and even putting in a chest drain. It's the equivalent of a flight simulator for pilots, and allows staff to practise with some rare situations.

"It might only be something they get to do once every couple of years, and so you don't wait for two years to do that training; you need to do it so that you're ready when it happens. 

"So you practise before game time so that you're slick and co-ordinated and efficient.  And it makes a difference; it saves kids' lives," says Trish Wood, Starship nurse educator.

The beeping machines, the crying, the fighting for breath, all add to the realism.

"The mannequin becomes a child. They buy into the realism and then they care for that with all the emotion, stress and excitement that they will within a normal situation," says Ms Wood.

Dr Shepherd says staff feel like they're in a real-life event.

"That allows us to train teams together and people to work together and to practise the skills and knowledge that they need."

The SIM Baby cost $85,000 and was donated by New World. Further funding from Mercury Energy will allow Starship to roll out its world-class paediatric simulation training programme to more hospitals around the country.

Dr Shepherd and Ms Wood are heading to Glasgow this weekend for the International Paediatric Simulation Conference.