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Emergency pediatric resuscitation simulations resume for first time since pandemic

Posted Nov 10th, 2023

Niagara Health team members, alongside McMaster Children's Hospital Simulation, Resuscitation and Outreach Center (SiROC) and McMaster University’s Centre for Simulation-Based Learning (CSBL) participated in a pediatric resuscitation scenario at the St. Catharines hospital. 

A wave of respiratory and viral infections led to a flood of children in Emergency Departments across Ontario last fall. This fall, emergency medical staff at Niagara Health’s (NH) three EDs are getting extra training for the rare, but potentially life-threatening, complications that can arise from conditions including RSV, flu and COVID-19.

NH is teaming up with McMaster Children's Hospital’s Simulation, Resuscitation and Outreach Center (SiROC) and McMaster University’s Centre for Simulation-Based Learning (CSBL) for three mock pediatric emergency and education sessions. It’s the first collaboration of this kind since 2018.

Although pediatric respiratory emergencies are rare, they require an immediate response from skilled staff.

“We are fortunate that we don’t have critically ill infants and children to look after often. But when we do, we want to be prepared,” says Vera Girard, Emergency Department Nurse Educator and Registered Nurse.

NH nurses and physicians are participating in three pediatric resuscitation scenarios involving a seizure, respiratory failure and pneumonia with sepsis, at each of the St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, and Welland hospitals. Simulating these emergencies with high-tech mannequins from McMaster University can increase confidence levels, teamwork skills and communication. All of which, improve patient safety and outcomes.

“The simulation sessions give us a safe space to practice working together as a team, at a time when the stakes aren’t so high,” explains Girard. “Practicing improves your performance, just like with any sports team. By practicing, we can identify supplies and equipment needs, knowledge or skill gaps, team dynamics issues and improve them so that in a real patient situation we have what we need to be at the top of our game.” 

NH hosted the first simulation at the St. Catharines hospital on Oct. 25, with another Nov. 1 at the Welland Site, and a third on Nov. 9 in Niagara Falls. Conner Martin, Emergency Registered Nurse with Niagara Health, participated in the first mock pediatric emergency.

“A lot of my skills were refreshed,” he says, “and we definitely got a deeper level of training thanks to the McMaster educators and their vast knowledge.”

Dr. James Leung, Pediatric Attending Physician at McMaster Children’s Hospital and Assistant Dean for the Centre for Simulation Based Learning, is leading the simulations.

“There was a lot of preparing that we had to do in the background but it was a really good collaboration between multiple centres,” says Dr. Leung. “The Niagara Health nurse educators were fantastic hosts and a lot of help in setting this up.”

The simulations also offer an opportunity for NH nurses and physicians to practice using the Paediatric Tele-Resus Program. In pediatric emergencies, patients are transferred to Hamilton Health Sciences’ McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH), but the team at NH must first save the child’s life. 

The tele-resuscitation system uses video conferencing-like technology to allow the MCH team to log into the system and get a bird’s-eye view of the patient and room through high-definition cameras. They are then able to remotely coach the NH team through advanced techniques to stabilize patients as quickly as possible.

“They have more experience looking after this patient population,” says Girard, “so they can share valuable tips to ensure we do the very best we can in even the most difficult situations.”

Dr. Katelyn Baker, Emergency Medicine Physician with NH, also participated in October’s pediatric emergency scenario and says simulation-based training is a great tool for teams to practice in a realistic but safe environment.

“We collaborate with McMaster Children’s Hospital when we need to transfer sick kids to them, so it’s nice to get to know them a bit more personally and learn from them,” she says. “I know that last winter was really rough in terms of viral illnesses and I’m expecting this one to be similar.”

“It’s really about being more prepared to care for kids,” says Dr. Leung. “Doing simulations like this is a really great way to build connections between different institutions and to really grow our healthcare systems. That means growing our teams, growing our individuals.”

Niagara Health System