Lifelike ‘Trauma HAL’ Delivers Life-Saving Lessons During Disaster Drill Simulations

By  //  April 18, 2022

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Exercises took place at Space Coast Regional Airport

Trauma HAL sustained multiple injuries during a crash simulation recently at Space Coast Regional Airport, but he was alive when Health First First Flight arrived for medical transport to Holmes Regional Medical Center. (Health First image)

He blinks, he bleeds, he breathes. He brings real human depth to Brevard County first responders’ disaster drill simulations.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Running toward a fiery or gristly accident takes valor, but saving a life takes training, and such a scenario is hard to simulate.

Now, with the help of a large grant from the Health First Foundation, exercises such as the one at Space Coast Regional Airport on April 13 have gotten a bit more lifelike.

The Health First-led disaster drill on April 13 involving several agencies such as the Titusville Fire Department, Brevard County Fire Rescue and a class of emergency medical technicians from Eastern Florida State College witnessed the debut of “Trauma HAL,” a high-fidelity simulation mannequin that physically performs the signs of a trauma patient.

First responders in full dress, in vehicles and carrying the gear they would normally carry, responded to a multivehicle rollover accident with roughly a half dozen injured passengers and bystanders.

Health First Foundation Vice President Chris Kern gets a hug from Health First Trauma Surgeon Dr. Scott Zenoni. (Health First image)

Health First emergency doctors and nurses were on hand to coach first responders on delivering aid. (Health First image)

The most dire case was Trauma HAL.

“He’s pretty impressive,” Health First First Flight Nurse Ryan Everest, who directed Hal’s physiology from a tablet computer, told responders before the simulation began.

“His eyes open, blink, pupils dilate, constrict. You are able to intubate, as well as crico [cricothyrotomy], if needed. His chest rises, bilateral and unilateral, to simulate pneumothorax. You are able to CPR him, track quality. You can listen to lung sounds. Defibrillate him as well.”

HEALTH FIRST EMERGENCY MEDICINE Dr. Larissa Dudley with Nadyra Ingram, who directed the drill. (Health First image)

High-Fidelity Mannequin

HAL can bleed from limbs, so personnel can implement tourniquets. Likewise, he is designed for IV practice, and exhibits a pulse at multiple touchpoints, including pedal.

“If you have a hypotensive patient, you will lose peripheral before you lose your central pulses, so key into that,” Everest said.

At about $112,000, HAL was purchased for the health system with a grant from the Health First Foundation.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” said Health First Trauma Surgeon Dr. Scott Zenoni, giving Foundation Vice President Chris Kern a hug. “This is as close as we can get to working on an actual human being … that amplifies the adrenaline, the tension.”

“It’s a huge change in training,” said Rob Spivey, Nurse Manager of Health First’s First Flight.

“It’s a high-fidelity mannequin that simulates true-to-life injuries and allows these first responders to practice, to see what their issues are, self-correct while getting responsive feedback from the mannequin-like a real person. So they’re getting visual and tactile cues in real-time versus someone verbally giving them a scenario and telling them what’s happened. It changes training to a level far greater than anything before. So, I’m told the investment was huge – but the return is exponentially bigger yet.”

HAL will also be deployed for internal training. It can simulate everything from strokes to gunshot wounds. The tablet-based system allows different scenarios to be run and controlled, and it provides event recording and can export performance reports for debriefing.

“The best part about this drill is they’re using their own equipment,” said Dr. Larissa Dudley, who serves as Medical Director of multiple area fire departments and Assistant Medical Director of First Flight.

“These are the trucks, these are the apparatuses they use every single day when they come to work, so the fact that they’re responsible for using their own bags with their own equipment, their own medications, their own tubing, tanks, everything, it makes it that much more valuable. They can apply this on the very next call.”

TITUSVILLE FIREFIGHTERS and Brevard County Fire Rescue work together at a simulated vehicle extrication during a disaster drill organized by Health First at Space Coast Regional Airport on April 13. (Health First image)


The event was coordinated by Health First Clinical Account Executive Nadyra Ingram and First Flight Nurse Laura Wolf.

“What this just shows is how well these men and women do,” Ingram said. “Our fire departments, Brevard County Fire Rescue, they’re well-trained. You’re in great hands, and then, at our hospital, you’re very well taken care of. Our community should be proud.”

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