The wind howled. The rain beat on the windows. Then the lights flickered. But BAYADA Pediatrics Nurse, Krista, didn’t panic. She knew what was coming next…and she was prepared.

Krista told me that she knew they were about to lose power because of the storm, so she made sure that her client’s portable oxygen tank was at the ready. Once the electricity went out, it took just 10 to 15 seconds to switch over to the portable tank. The precious baby in her care continued breathing without interruption—and her parents breathed a sigh of relief. Krista credited her SIM training with preparing her for that moment.

Amazingly, Krista had practiced this exact scenario in our Simulation Lab (SIM) just three days prior. In a full-day training session, Krista had practiced on one of our high-fidelity child manikins how to respond in a power outage to maintain uninterrupted respiration for a pediatric client reliant on a tracheostomy and ventilator. Ventilators have a battery back-up, but O2 concentrators that pump the oxygen rely solely on electric power, making them useless in a power outage. Having a portable oxygen tank is life-saving in an emergency situation like this.

During her SIM lab training, Krista was challenged to respond to many different critical situations including a loss of electricity. Krista actually missed the oxygen switchover while practicing the power outage scenario, but learned from the simulated experience and took the right action when faced with the real-life decision.

It was pretty emotional for all of us at BAYADA, and for the nine-month-old girl’s parents, to witness how smooth and uneventful this potentially life-threatening incident turned out to be.

Afterwards, Krista expressed to me just how grateful she was for the training received. It made her feel calm and fully prepared for this urgent situation before it ever became an emergency. So, when the lights went out at her client’s house, she didn’t panic.

She knew just what to do.

She kept her young client safe.

She did her job…exceptionally well.

Where training gets real

You might think practicing on a manikin in a lab is easy because it isn’t a live person, but it’s actually pretty intimidating because everything is so realistic. When Krista was training, we made the scenario even more realistic by having our clinical educator Angie Shaw, RN, play the part of the panicked mom who unintentionally makes a stressful situation even more so.

But Krista handled it like a professional. In our lab, Krista handled each practice scenario professionally and calmly, which isn’t easy to do in an environment that is deliberately constructed to replicate serious, potentially stressful medical situations. Normal human emotions kick in, and it takes great focus and confidence to keep fear and anxiety from getting in the way of good nursing.

The lab is also an amazing opportunity for nurses who have never done home care to transition into the home environment more easily. Common skills practiced include how to recognize changes in health status, tracheostomy and ventilator care, and responding to changes in respiration, circulation, and color. Our program was the first of its kind for home care, and our goal is to help our nurses feel safe and competent in the pediatric home care environment.

And that’s what it’s all about.

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