Practicing preparedness: Faculty, staff undergo O.R. fire safety training

December 12, 2019  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

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On a typical Thursday, all 81 operating rooms (ORs) across Michigan Medicine are busy. Patients are receiving life-saving treatment, undergoing transplant operations or going through procedures that will improve their day-to-day quality of life.

A recent Thursday morning, however, saw 68 of those ORs “paused” for two hours as more than 1,050 faculty and staff participated in a systemwide fire safety training.

For the duration of those two hours, faculty and staff from all surgical services, anesthesiology, nursing and safety management services donned surgical gowns and prepared the OR — but no patients arrived. Instead, each team worked through a simulated event in which a procedural error resulted in a fire in the OR, putting the patient and staff at risk.

“Pausing the ORs for two hours was crucial to the success of our training and really shows the commitment of our leadership teams,” said Cary Kalowick, R.N., a clinical nurse educator and co-leader of the training. “It gave us an opportunity to gather faculty and staff from every discipline at every level and run through actual scenarios to help them gain better perspective of how to react to an emergency.”

Everyone plays a role

Staff in the ORs participate in fire safety training on a quarterly basis, but this was the first time simulated, interprofessional training was used with faculty and staff from all disciplines.

Each OR used in the training had one facilitator and an average of 20 faculty and staff participants. The facilitator walked teams through two scenarios while participants acted out how they would react to each situation based on their role.

“After the training we heard from many facilitators that their teams really learned a lot from each other about different roles and responsibilities,” Jillian Bowers, R.N., a clinical nurse educator and co-leader of the training. “The setting really encouraged staff at all levels to speak up and share their thoughts on how to react in certain situations. Every participant had an opportunity to learn from everyone else in the room with them, regardless of job title or role.”

Real-life scenarios

The two scenarios used in the training were based on real fire events that occurred at Michigan Medicine and resulted in harm to patients.

“We knew it was important to use scenarios that happened at our institution to help participants better connect with the training,” said Bowers. “An important part of the high reliability work we are engaging in as an institution is being more open and transparent about errors and learning from them, so we wanted to incorporate that into this training.”

The simulated drill was so successful that other procedural areas outside of the ORs have requested to participate in a similar exercise, and the group hopes to expand efforts to continue using real-life scenarios as training opportunities.

“Engaging in this type of scenario-based training is an important component of our journey to high reliability,” added Kalowick. “We hope to be able to facilitate more of these training opportunities as our journey continues because having faculty and staff re-enact a scenario together builds better teamwork and collaboration, which will ultimately lead to better patient care.”