Sixteen years as a critical care nurse in a major hospital teaches you that saving lives or limbs with traumatic injuries requires you to focus. Patients are depending on you.
After the birth of my son, I decided I wanted a work life balance so I became a first aid trainer.
It was obvious from the outset that first aid training fell far short of preparing students for reality. If we are genuine about trying to save lives and limbs we had to get real about the training.
So began my interest in developing more realistic simulations to improve training outcomes.
Trying the Patience of Friends and Family
Deciding to follow my interest, in late 2008 I attended a moulage program in Nevada USA and during that trip drew up a business plan on a napkin with my then business partner Chris. Our plan was to continue to train medics, include some more realistic scenarios with our new found moulage skills and offer our moulage services to the wider community.
So TraumaSim became a Pty Ltd company on 13th November 2008 and a very basic website was launched. Initially working from spare rooms in our respective homes Chris and I practised on family and friends and continued our ‘real’ jobs as trainers.
"my son's school friends thought coming to our place was awesome".
Then the Army Found Us
Within a few months we were asked to meet and demonstrate our abilities to Cubic Defence in Townsville to see if we might be suitable to provide our services for Army medical training for pre-deployment activities for Afghanistan. In 2009 we attended another more military specific moulage course in Virginia USA which taught us a different style for different conditions but continued the passion.
Cubic liked what we did so our first few jobs began. In 2011 we were asked to be a part of a large tender which would make us a subcontractor under the Commonwealth to provide moulage services broadly across defence training. Around this time Chris decided a future with this wasn’t for him and he left the business to follow other dreams. TraumaSim carried on with just myself as director. We won our place in the tender and became incredibly busy with multiple jobs all over the country.
Army jobs at that time were huge as our military had a much larger role in Afghanistan then (plus with other regional commitments) compared to now. We were away for several weeks at a time assisting on exercises often with 3 or 4 of our staff on location in simulated Afghan villages in some pretty unusual settings (think middle of the desert) with soldiers and other contractors including film special effects people, animal handlers (with camels and donkeys) and short statured people who played the roles of children in the villages. It was an amazing time.
The military work still continues now however a lightened version compared to then as our military has a more training focused role in safer parts of Afghanistan and Iraq.
However as the military work lessened other opportunities grew.
Mines, Airports, Industrial Plants
Major corporations in Mining and Resources began to demand realism in emergency training as they identified as the military had earlier, that more realistic the training the more effective the training outcomes. More importantly it reduced incident response risks. Similarly Airports, Railways and other major installations began to use our services. TraumaSim also took part in a number of major counter-terrorism exercises in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games.
We have even applied moulage to multiple role players whilst travelling in trains
The Universities Began To Take Notice
Universities such as Edith Cowan University (ECU) took interest in what we were doing, and began to conduct academic research and analysis. That resulted in peer reviewed published work that identified the value to be gained through realism. It is worth noting that ECU, have now embedded greater realism into their paramedic training.
We now began to teach these skills to Universities around the world and even to the Australian Royal College of Surgeons.
Launching Trauma Products - Part Task Trainers
Parallel to our role of moulage services to defence we saw a need for better medical part task trainers. Back in 2010 our first Emergency Tourniquet Trainer was developed to take the place of Army using legs of lamb to apply tourniquets.
“legs of lamb sitting in 40 degrees are not a pleasant training aid”
They are used extensively by the military but also increasingly by Surf Lifesaving (shark attacks), Police (gun shots, stabbing and major femoral wounds) and Paramedics, to learn and practice the actual skills and pressure needed to stop trauma bleeding,
New ranges of part task trainers have been developed and sold to police, paramedic, first aid training and international military forces. Our products are designed to help save lives.
Hospitals and Universities Asked Us for Wound Care
Hospitals and teaching universities engaged with us to develop wounds that could be used to help students identify and classify and practice treating. Thanks to the tremendous help and collaboration of the wonderful medical community we now have over 150 different types of wounds, injuries, rashes and medical conditions. The medical accuracy of these wounds and injuries has been a critical focus in product development.
From Student to Teacher
In 2014 I delivered several moulage workshops at the inaugural SimGHOSTS event in Australia at the University of the Sunshine Coast. SimGHOSTS is the International Association of Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialists.
This started a great relationship with SimGHOSTS which has seen me deliver workshops for them at 4 Australian events, 2 USA, 1 Dubai and 1 Singapore event. This has helped take TraumaSim to the world. From the student in 2008 to voted best presenter in the USA 2018, it has been a humbling journey.
Spreading Our Wings – The Future
During 2018 we have begun to invest time and effort in developing our international plans. Starting with in early March when we connected with Leader Healthcare in Dubai to have a partner for sales in the Middle East and North Africa region. And in late 2018 we began discussions with partners in USA and will have local USA sales available very soon.
Small, Humble and Grateful
TraumaSim may have big dreams but they can only be realised by staying focused and committed to our customers and staff that built our success so far.
We remain committed to providing our customers and partners with what they need to ensure greater realism is achieved in first response and medical education and training.
I am very proud of the team we have and love working with them all. We share a common purpose of wanting to improve real life outcomes by assisting with emergency and medical training across all fields.
I have had support from too many people to remember over the last 10 years, staff, consultants, friends and family.
I would like to thank all of those who have worked with us in any way – you all contributed something of yourself to this interesting but unusual business.
And to our clients without your interest, needs and at times patience we would not exist.