Car accident simulation prepares students for real world


It’s only a simulation but it feels real, so beware: there will be screaming and there will be blood.

John Abbott College nursing, paramedicine, police technology and theatre students have combined skills for a simulated, multi-vehicle accident as part of the CEGEP’s Open House, Oct. 22. There are presentations of the one-hour scenario at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. The action unfolds across the street from the Laird Building near a side entrance to the Anne-Marie Edward Science Building.

The set-up: a driver rams his car into another vehicle with two passengers. The driver of the second vehicle is not wearing a seat belt and is ejected through the windshield. He suffers a traumatic injury. The second passenger bangs her head. Sirens wail, police and paramedics arrive on the scene. It appears the driver of the first vehicle is impaired and exits his car unscathed.

The seriously-injured driver is actually a state-of-the-art mannequin used by nursing and paramedicine students on a regular basis to experience medical interventions that are as close to real as you can get. Affectionately dubbed “Trauma Hal”, the $93,000 mannequin, blinks, breathes, bleeds and can be programmed by an instructor to speak and to manifest countless health complications. The college has six mannequins in all — two adult males, two adult females (one that gives birth), a five-year-old child and an infant.

It is the first time the four departments have collaborated on a simulation.

“These kind of simulations help (us students) tremendously,” nursing student Zachary Carroll said prior to a run-through of the scenario, Monday. “You learn how to react under pressure. It feels very real.”

During the Open House, Carroll will explain to the spectators what is happening medically and answer any questions. The 21 year old graduated from the paramedicine program and worked as a paramedic, but returned to the college to study nursing. His goal is to work in an emergency ward.

Police-technology student Jean-Philippe Angers handles the interview of the drunk driver.

“We have him blow into a breathalyzer machine and he fails,” Angers said. “So we cuff him and take him away.”

Angers said the police-technology students are given multiple, outdoor impaired-driving scenarios to study and execute over the course of their training.

“These scenarios are where the learning takes place,” police-technology co-chair Gerald McGrath said as he watched the students prepare for the run through. McGrath teaches courses in handling impaired-driving scenarios and accident investigation.

Once the accident scene has been handled, spectators choose their next destination where the simulation continues. The drunk driver will be taken away in hand cuffs to the “police station” to be booked. The injured will be taken by stretcher to the “hospital” on the fifth floor of the science building where doctors and nurses do their thing.

It’s a learning experience for the participating students and an eye-opener for spectators.

“If you want to replicate the real world, you need interaction with the three departments,” simulation coordinator Matthew Morin said. “They need to learn to communicate with each other as they would as professionals.”

Morin has been creating simulations for two years. Students study the scenario in advance and the day of the simulation are divided into groups and execute the scenario while the instructor and other students observe from behind a one-way mirror.

“This is the new classroom,” Morin said. “The (conventional) learning takes place during the debriefing. Our professions are evolving. It’s important that the landscape of the classroom also evolve.”