College of Education and Human Development - George Mason University

Brenda Bannan Coordinates Accident Simulation to Research Emergency Response

May 26, 2015

Associate Professor Brenda Bannan.

At 9:15 on a rainy Thursday morning a police dispatcher radioed a call to emergency medical technicians: “There is an accident with injury, a single vehicle with the patient not acting appropriately at 4600 West Ox Road.”

A late-model blue BMW had crashed. The driver, sitting upright, wasn’t moving or responding to the arriving EMTs who pulled up in an ambulance followed by a fire truck. Unbeknownst to them, the driver was suffering from serious internal bleeding. The driver was carefully removed from the car and strapped to a gurney before being loaded into the ambulance and taken to the hospital.

The “driver” was in fact a manikin, a life-sized accident victim equipped with two electronic beacons that were pinging every three seconds to receivers at Inova Fairfax Hospital. The vehicles, equipment, EMTs, emergency room personnel and others involved in responding to the emergency were also equipped with Bluetooth beacons that recorded their proximity to the manikin, which was relayed in real time to observers at the hospital.

The simulated accident was directed by George Mason University instructional design and technology professor Brenda Bannan, who coordinated the event with Inova, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, George Mason volunteers, Mason’s College of Education and Human Development, and technology companies Arnouse Digital Devices Corporation, Yet Analytics, Radius Networks, B-Line Medical, and Experience API. Bannan said cohorts at Georgetown University and the University of Maryland helped devise the scenario.


George Mason University works with Fairfax County Fire and Rescue to conduct a live training drill. Dozens of proximity beacons, activity sensors, and ultra small microcomputers were deployed -- on EMTs, firefighters, equipment, ambulance, and more -- to capture, analyze, transmit, and display data in real time from the first responder team to a medical/surgical team at INOVA Fairfax Hospital. Photo by Alexis Glenn.


The original idea, Bannan said, was a response to a request by Inova to help them minimize difficulties in what they call the hand-off process, when a patient is transferred from the ambulance to the emergency room to the operating room. The data will show where there was lag time between decisions and actions, how resources were used and other aspects of handling a crisis.

She believes it’s the first time a simulated accident providing immediate feedback has been studied this way.


The simulation was a proof-of-concept to determine whether an "Internet of Things" approach can enhance emergency training and response by providing an additional window into the movements and actions of individuals and teams in relation to a patient's care. Photo courtesy of Shelly Blake-Plock.


“We wanted to determine whether a disaster simulation could effectively incorporate these sensors and provide immediate feedback to the participants,” Bannan said. “Most importantly, we wanted to look to see whether this information could provide the participants with a deeper learning experience.”

Results: The proximity beacons transmitted 14,239 proximity data points in about an hour. This allowed emergency response and hospital teams to immediately see the pre-hospital and in-hospital activity and proximity to the patient in the simulation in real time. The EMS Activity Monitor allowed participants to see key in-bound events related to the status of the patient prior to patient arrival in the emergency department. This data will complement and inform more than eight hours of video and audio data captured by approximately 12 cameras for research.


Afterwards, the participants took part in a debriefing session. "We wanted to see whether this information could provide participants with a deeper reflective and collaborative learning experience immediately after the simulation in the debrief -- the point where research says the most learning occurs for these high-stakes team situations," said Bannan.


The results of the simulation will be presented at the Global City Teams Challenge Expo at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., on June 1, an event sponsored by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) and US Ignite. The team is representing the City of Fairfax with its project called “Ecosystem for Smart Medical Team Training.”


This article was written by Buzz McClain for Mason News.


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George Mason University's College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) includes two schools: the Graduate School of Education, one of the most comprehensive education schools in Virginia, and the School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism. CEHD offers a full range of courses, certificates, and degree programs on campus, online, and on site to more than 4,000 students each year. CEHD is fully accredited by NCATE, and all licensure programs are approved by the Virginia Department of Education. George Mason University, located just outside of Washington, D.C., is Virginia's largest public research university.

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