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Dr Mark Poulson and the ERL

The ERL and Emergency Care.


University Hospitals of North Midlands provides cutting edge care for the most injured and sickest patients in Staffordshire and across North Wales as demonstrated on Channel 5’s 999: Critical Condition. Delivering this level of care under pressure requires practice and a focus on improving skills for when they matter the most.

The use of simulation to practice skills and team leadership is well recognised. Simulation is “a method or technique that is employed to produce an experience without going through the real event”. It is important that the simulation environment is as close to the real situation as possible and that the training is as authentic as possible.

To support this learning UHNM has developed the Extended Reality Laboratory (ERL) at the Postgraduate Medical Centre, County Hospital. This high tech facility allows an immersive training experience for reproducing the stresses and strains of real patient situations to prepare our teams.

Dr Mark Poulson, Consultant in Emergency Medicine  and Major Trauma Associate Medical Director for PMDE, said:  “We use projection, sounds and smells to produce an environment that is as close to the real one as possible. This immerses the learner into the clinical case and allows us to assess how we respond under pressure and look to improve from feedback and review of the recordings made of the practice case.”

He added: “The ability to learn with feedback and review of performance is well recognised in professional sport. Most professional athletes and teams have a coach that provides feedback and facilitates improvement through focused practice. The importance of this coaching in healthcare practice is increasingly recognised and valued. In the ERL we focus our coaching on technical - how to do practical procedures - and non-technical, such as decision making, team-working and reflective practice skills - these are the essential roles of the facilities in the ERL.”

The impact of the training at the ERL was recently highlighted in the case of child whose life was saved by the quick action of the team in the clinical episode that was very close to one that they had practiced in the ERL.

Dr James Chinery, Consultant in Trauma Anaesthesia and Pre-hospital Emergency Medicine, said: "The training we had undertaken at the ERL had a direct benefit to this patient's care as it meant we were able to put the right processes in place as quickly as possible.

This outstanding level of care as highlighted in every episode of 999: Critical Condition is the aim of all the simulation training that we undertake with our emergency teams.