Meet the Sims, at Yukon's new medical simulation training facility

Yukon hospitals celebrated the opening of their new mobile clinical simulation centre this week.

The Yukon Hospital Foundation has spent two years raising $1 million to purchase state-of-the-art manikins and lab equipment, and cover the operating and maintenance costs to run the program. 

Simulations will help doctors and nurses practice complex procedures, deliver babies, protect patients from unnecessary risks and save lives.

The lifelike manikins are similar to those used at many other hospitals in larger Canadian centres. They breathe, cough, talk, move and moan, especially when the simulation program is set up for a major training operation. 

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"It's worn off a bit, but some people did find it creepy," said Sara Harrison, clinical nurse educator and simulation lead for Yukon Hospitals, referring to the manikins. 

"We had to close the door sometimes because people were like, 'it's breathing'. But we have become so used to it now that we've got the chest open and we are looking at the mechanics on the inside — so it has become second nature now." 

The new manikin family at the hospital consists of four figures — SimMom, SimMan3G, SimJunior and SimNewB.

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Harrison says practicing with lifelike simulations can help health professionals improve their response time, which could ultimately save lives. 

The training facility was demonstrated in Whitehorse this week, but the Dawson City and Watson Lake hospitals will also be using the mobile training facilities.

"In nursing, we do mandatory education once a month so we rotate all of our staff and as part of that, we do a 'code blue scenario', so we will get to use our new manikins for that," said Harrison.

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Simulation-based training mimics actual or potential situations in practice.

The manikins can be used to simulate premature or complicated births, trauma situations and post-surgery complications. They're controlled by software that can be programmed for specific needs.

"We can increase the heart rate, increase their blood pressure. With SimMan, we can have him sweat if he is in a lot of pain, his eyes could close a little bit, and then we've got some vocal sounds as well," said Jan Rossiter, trainer for the manikin supplier, Laerdal Medical Canada.

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