Medical technicians solve puzzles to save lives

Members of the 403rd Aeromedical Staging Squadron participated in an escape room scenario to maintain their training requirements for medical technicians during the March Unit Training Assembly at Keesler Air Force Base. The medical technicians had to work together to "save the life" of their patient during the training before they could escape. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jessica L. Kendziorek)

Locked in a room, three groups of medical technicians work together to solve puzzles, look for clues, in order to diagnosis and treat their patients to “save the patient’s life” before their time expired so they could escape during their March Unit Training Assembly at Keesler Air Force Base.

Senior Master Sgt. Stacey McDonald, 403rd Aeromedical Staging Squadron medical technician functional manager, and Tech. Sgt. Emily Pritchett, 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron medical element non-commissioned officer in charge, created a dynamic, fun and challenging approach to routine training.

Medical technicians were split into three groups and put through three different types of training. One training class they attended involved them participating in a group activity, while another involved practice training for suturing. The final training put it all into one, by doing an ‘escape room’ where they had to work together using clues around the room and piece together the puzzle of what they needed to do to “save the life” of their patient.

The ‘escape room’ contained three different medical scenarios, ranging from a burn victim, to a gunshot victim with massive bleeding, and to a neurological injury.

“By having to figure out what was wrong with the patient, they had to also remember what they had to use to treat their patients injuries,” said McDonald. “Knowing what items that they had to use for each treatment was crucial, because without that knowledge, they wouldn’t be able to find the clues in order to move forward.”

By delivering a different approach to training, the medical technicians had to work together more, instead of everyone standing around and just discussing what they would do to help their patient, which is important since this is a reoccurring training that these members are required to undergo to maintain proficiency, said McDonald.

“It was fun and we learned the value of teamwork,” said Senior Airman Joshua Lands, 403rd ASTS medical technician. “It made you stop and think about situational awareness, and that you need to pay attention to details.”

The refresher training the medical technicians received the day before was included in the clues that they had to decipher.

“This training had us use everything we have learned and it eases the tension of a traditional learning environment,” said Lands. “The element of surprise was there and the simulation mannequin was useful because it moves and responds to what you do.”

While Pritchett and McDonald came up with scenarios, Senior Airman Walter Martin, 403rd ASTS aerospace medical technician, ensured the simulation mannequin provided the patient feedback from receiving treatment.

Simulator technicians from the 81st Medical Group played an important part, by providing some of the equipment that was used and helped educate members of the 403rd ASTS on how to operate the simulation mannequin.

Pritchett said that this type of training gets the medical technicians hands-on training with the simulation mannequin, or “Sim Man,” and makes them think outside of the box.

Other items used during the training included a model of an anatomical heart, in which clues were placed inside and a fake arm, fake blood included, which the technicians used to practice starting IV’s.

“Starting an IV is a basic skill for medical technicians,” said McDonald. “But it is a skill that has to be maintained, so practicing on the arm gives the members a chance to hone that skill.”

Looking to the future, McDonald said that using the escape room scenario was great for teamwork, but there is more in store.

“Everyone made it out in the time allotted,” she said. “I may just have to make the scenarios a little more difficult. That way some may not make it out, next time.”