On the 13 January, officials confirmed the first case of COVID-19 outside of China, a single case in Thailand. By March 13, Europe had become the epicenter of the pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China. The pandemic has affected almost every country across the world, resulting in nationwide lockdowns and international travel bans.
The idea behind these restrictions – to reduce the reproduction rate, a number that has become a key metric in controlling the pandemic. However, it does nothing to protect those on the frontline.
PPE – What Is It? Why Is It the Key?
No matter how we choose to control the virus, some people are going to be exposed to risk. Services such as healthcare are a necessity, and cannot be stopped. In fact, the coronavirus calls for an even higher demand for healthcare.
The UK has experienced the biggest one-off recruitment programme in the history of the National Health Service (NHS), urging students and ex-healthcare workers to join the workforce during these unprecedented times, putting themselves and potentially their families at risk.
The risk comes from how COVID-19 spreads, through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can make their way into the mouths or noses of nearby people and inhaled, exposing them to the virus.
PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) has become a key weapon in our arsenal again the virus, making it harder for droplets to reach peoples noses or mouths. It is the number one tool to stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2, and therefore it is absolutely essential that all healthcare professionals know how to use it.
PPE is any equipment that will protect the user, including gloves, masks, and even safety helmets and clothing. While it is not a new concept (people have been using it in healthcare and other industries in high-risk scenarios), the demand for PPE is far beyond what we would have been expecting.
Along with this unforeseen increase in demand, many roles that traditionally did not require PPE, are now having to use it quickly and effectively to avoid spreading the virus, even if the patient is not confirmed to have COVID-19.
Therefore, all frontline workers need to have easy access to educational training materials and be provided these materials and resources as part of their mandated hazard certification.
Effective Training That Sticks
Exonicus has been building medical simulation training for a long time. As COVID-19 grew, we recognised the need for increased training efforts, so we added an extensive PPE training module. This module includes a dressing room, gown-up and de-gowning PPE procedure for a technician, nurse, or physician.
To make the application effective in training the user and increasing retention rates, it is key that the user of the application receives feedback. Hence, within the module we included a training and simulation mode with data being recorded for grading and positive feedback.
This training module addresses the serious nature of a potential viral contagion such as COVID-19 and is applicable to any biosafety level 3 conditions. This educational video and simulator training module is based on the latest and most current information, and has been validated and supported by members of the International Board of the American College of Emergency Physicians, members of the Society in Europe for Simulation Applied to Medicine, and officials from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Delivering PPE Training at Scale
It is not safe, nor possible due to limited resources, to perform comprehensive PPE training on-site. Therefore, Exonicus in collaboration with Rigas Stradins University and healthcare professionals created a COVID-19 PPE training video based on World Health Organisation and European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) guidelines.
The instruction video has been approved by The Center for Disease Prevention and Control in Latvia and converted to English with a goal to help frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After reviewing evidence supporting simulation and virtual reality based education as an effective tool in healthcare, we are already working on a VR game to help with the PPE training, evaluation of the contamination, and optimal management of COVID-19 patients.
You can join us as a healthcare professional or scientific collaborator, and bring the solution to as many institutions and users as possible.