In 1972 I was eight years old, in the third grade, and vividly remember my first encounter with what I would call my first medical simulator at the YMCA during swimming practice. Today most would call this a partial task trainer; however I argue that that is part of simulation in the way the start of today.
I built a replica of this simulator a few years back to present at a lecture and it appears in the picture in this post. The original was built by some clever swimming instructors who were teaching fourth graders how to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to save a life associated with drowning, and near drowning incidents.
It is simply a Clorox bottle with a hole cut in it, feeding into a plastic bag that would force the back of a clipboard up and down in response to ventilation’s being provided via the mouth of the Clorox bottle. See it in action here.
Crude? Perhaps. Effective? Undoubtedly! At least in my case. High fidelity? Yep. When I breath air into the Clorox bottle, the “chest” goes up and down just like when I do ventilations on a real patient.
I keep this simulator prominently displayed in my office to serve as a continuous reminder that we are about achieving outcomes through innovative education as opposed to that of evangelism for sake of technology. While all of it has its place, I love high tech stuff as much as anybody else, there are times when simplistic models combined with enthusiastic instructors and aptly defined curriculum and learning outcomes will prevail. Prevail is a sense of sustainability and achieving long term outcomes.
This is part of the educational strategies I use join faculty development programs. The important thing is to focus on learning outcomes first, then adapt to the reality of available equipment, budget, finance and lastly scalability.
If low-tech simple solutions are the answer, then perhaps, yes they are good enough.