Vice President 2018/19
When the morning of the Pan-London Moulage Day arrived, I praised the weather Gods when I looked out of the window; by some miracle it was sunny, despite being early February. When the same event was to supposed to have run last year a huge snowstorm had stopped us in our tracks. Only hours before students from University College London (UCL) and and King's College London (KCL) were meant to gather on Hampstead Heath for our afternoon of wilderness simulation we had to cancel.
Not. This. Year.
Donning a hat and a raincoat, just to be on the safe side, I went to meet the other event volunteers. When we met all met up in the park an hour before the event started, everyone was in good spirits. Each simulated casualty was given a different traumatic injury ranging from C-spine issues to femoral fractures or even simply being dead. Every person was set up in their respective position (in some cases stuck up a tree) and we awaited the radio call from the team leaders over the other side of the park...
But first, a bit of information about how the 'Pan-London Wilderness Medicine Moulage Day' began. It was originally an exercise for UCL students as a part of the Wilderness Medicine student selected module. This year for the first time, wilderness-minded students from a mixture of the London medical schools: UCL, St George's, Barts and the London, Imperial and KCL (obviously the best...), joined forces to undertake a large scale outdoor pre-hospital simulation. With 35 students and 15 volunteer casualties, it was going to be the biggest fake small aircraft accident Hampstead Heath had ever experienced!
....Meanwhile, the unsuspecting student participants were briefed in a separate location from the simulation and provided with maps, radios and relevant medical equipment. They were given a brief training session on radio communication and instructed to sort themselves into search and rescue groups. In hindsight, it might have been better to give more explicit instructions, as many of the students were in their first year and were accordingly flummoxed. They were instructed to work together to area search a pre-specified region on the map and manage any patients they came across, with the end goal of evacuating them to the local 'field hospital'.
It turns out that getting lots of people who don't know each other to work together unsurprisingly wasn't so simple. Many of the students sorted themselves into groups based on their medical school, rather than skills sets. As such, some students needed more guidance than others during the actual simulation. One unfortunate group got lost for the entire simulation and unsettlingly half of the medical kit disappeared for over an hour. A variety of radio channels were used which hindered communication slightly and at least one casualty was dragged out of a bush backwards (that might be an exaggeration).
However, there were some amazing displays of teamwork and leadership. Some casualties gave Oscar-worthy performances and a lot of the feedback regarding the sheer size of the simulation was positive. A highlight was observing a group creating an improvised human stretcher and one patient was expertly C-spine immobilised and transported to the field hospital. Many of the participants had, had previous wilderness medicine training, but commented that taking the opportunity to step out of the classroom and into the outdoors made a huge difference to their experience of the simulation and encouraged them to think laterally and literally.
Once every patient had been accounted for (and every rogue participant had been found), we hiked across the park to a local pub for a debrief and a much needed bite to eat. Our highly-esteemed patron treated everyone to a drink and some chips, which created the perfect environment to discuss the event and mingle. Students were able to exchange project ideas and society events, as well as expedition horror stories and their experience with wilderness medicine. During the debrief many areas for improvement were identified, so rest assured the 2nd Annual Pan-London Moulage Day will be even better.
Hope to see you there!