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Simulation drill prepares Cannon Falls team for real life emergencies

T.J. Clausen, an emergency medicine nursing supervisor at Mayo Clinic Health System, participates in a recent trauma simulation training held in Cannon Falls. Photo courtesy Mayo Clinic Health System

CANNON FALLS — Emergency department team members at Mayo Clinic Health System in Cannon Falls rushed to assist an injured patient who lay motionless and unresponsive. The setting was real in every way — almost.

Thankfully, the motionless "patient" was a computerized mannequin and all part of a recent difficult airway simulation training staged in Cannon Falls.

This advanced simulation training is a part of the Community Simulation project headed by staff from Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Training exercises like these are designed to prepare hospital staff with hands-on training when dealing with highly complex conditions a patient may present in the emergency department. The scenario offers staff a safe zone to practice and learn. It also helps staff deliver the same consistent quality of care throughout the entire Mayo Clinic Health System.

"Patient safety is our priority," said T.J. Clausen, emergency department nursing supervisor in Cannon Falls. "By having our staff participate in these drills, key personnel learn when and how to pull together the resources — supplies, blood, drugs and human expertise — needed to manage these types of emergencies."

Through advanced telemedicine capabilities available in Cannon Falls, staff can consult with physicians in Rochester when needed. The telemedicine helps connect providers through video conferencing and even allows Rochester specialists to monitor a patient heart rate and vital signs remotely.

"Not everyone wants or needs to travel to Mayo Clinic in Rochester for their care," said Dr. Torrey Laack, a Mayo Clinic emergency medicine physician and the medical co-director of the Community Simulation Center. "This type of technology and physician collaboration helps deliver a full spectrum of medical expertise no matter where they live."

A full team from the Community Simulation project traveled to Cannon Falls to assist and support the staff in the mock drills. Team members in Cannon Falls spent a half-day rotating through four simulations that mirror real life situations. Each event was followed by a debriefing to evaluate the experience and offer learning opportunities for the staff.

"It's an excellent educational opportunity for our staff in Cannon Falls," said Denise Foy, a nursing education specialist with the Community Simulation Center in Rochester. "The staff will be better prepared to handle complex procedures while helping to improve the safety and quality in our hospitals."

Simulation trainings are continually done throughout the entire Mayo Clinic Health System with this particular airway training already having been completed in Red Wing, Austin and Fairmont.