The boy on the hospital trolley groans in pain. His blood pressure is dropping and an ER doctor notes breath sounds becoming muffled in his left lung. Luckily, the six-year-old hit-and-run victim with multiple injuries is a rubberised, computerised patient simulator, newly acquired to teach Christchurch Hospital
staff advanced life support skills. Even if his vital signs improve, MegaCode Kid and adult companion MegaCode Kelly will not be discharged from Christchurch Hospital
's emergency department any time soon. The $35,000 mannequins were given to the hospital on a "free, ongoing loan" basis by the Emergency Care Trust. When connected to a laptop, each mannequin, the ultimate computer game for doctors and nurses, responds to treatment as staff insert IV lines or a chest drain, run medications, wire an ECG, or even give shock treatment with defibrillator paddles. Emergency department professor Mike Ardagh said the dolls were "much more realistic". "As they (staff) are doing things, it actually makes different noises and breath sounds. When it's wired up, if the airway is put in the wrong place then oxygen saturations start to fall on the monitor, just like it would do in a real patient." Ardagh said the advanced technology and responsiveness of the mannequins made training exercises much more interesting for staff. Clinical skills unit director and emergency physician Dr Jan Bone said the child model in particular was fantastic as the ED fortunately did not see many children with serious trauma. "It's good in that it teaches teamwork and how to look after that child, so he's got the best chance of a good outcome. It's very hard to practise on real patients." The Emergency Care Trust is an independent charity set up last year by Ardagh and emergency physician Martin Than to support education and research in emergency medicine.