New simulation truck brings the training to the people

August 1, 2014

Simulations hit the road

Story and Photo by Kirsten Goruk

Simulation training for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in parts of the North Zone has a sweet new ride.

A Medical Simulation Training Unit (MSTU) arrived in June thanks to the hard work and fundraising efforts of the Grande Prairie Regional EMS Foundation.

It’s taken the foundation eight long years to gather the money, $200,000 for the unit, most of which was raised through wine fairs, golf tournaments and donations from around the region.

“They never had anything like this in the North Zone before to train all of the emergency responders. It’s really nice to know that we’re part of the training, that we’ve helped with that. We’re pretty excited,” says Foundation Chair Cheryl Weaver.

In mid-June, EMS staff and Foundation members gathered in Grande Prairie for an official unveiling. As this is the first MSTU for the zone, it will have a huge impact on how AHS is able to keep up with training and refresher courses for staff.

“It’s going to be a fantastic addition to the North Zone. Currently we deliver simulation training to the staff, but because we don’t have the MSTU, it takes a significant amount of time to set up the simulation equipment at each station,” says Dan Schreiner, Manager, Learning & Development for EMS North Zone.

“We’ve basically been making do, but this MSTU will add to the realism of the simulation and provide staff more opportunities for participation.”

The MSTU is essentially a training unit on wheels, complete with a mannequin and all the other equipment required to run a realistic emergency simulation such as airway or cardiac emergencies, traumatic injuries and child birth.

“We’ve taken a decommissioned ambulance box, or patient compartment, and grafted it onto this truck. When the practitioners perform the simulation in the back, they don’t see the clinical educator operating the simulation. That educator can see, hear and control the environment from the cab of the truck,” says Brent Thorkelson, Staff Development Officer for EMS.

A schedule is already set for where the unit will travel, focusing on the west part of the zone. With this new addition, staff are hopeful that they’ll be able to contribute their part in meeting the goal of having every practitioner in the province through a simulation exercise in a year’s time.

“It will allow us to be more mobile and meet up with crews while they are out in their own areas. It’ll make the simulation a lot more accessible to more people, more frequently,” Schreiner says.

“And it’s not only limited to our EMS staff, the mobility also gives us the opportunity to work with our first responders in the various communities.”

Now that the unit is heading out into the communities, the Foundation members are excited to figure out what their next big project will be. Right now, some of their efforts remain focused on getting Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) into schools and businesses.

“We’re also looking for something bigger that we can help out with for the ground ambulance people. We don’t know what it is yet, but there’s always some need in the community and surrounding area,” Weaver says.

For more information about the Grande Prairie Regional EMS Foundation visit