5th Annual Intensive Surgical Skills Course Week (1 May – 6 May) at STOPS – A Letter from an attending medical student

To whom it may concern,

I would like to share with you my experiences in San Diego this past week. I was able to participate in “hyper-realistic” training for mass-casualty emergencies with 29 other medical students from two other schools. It was an experience that is difficult for me to put into words, and an attempt at fleshing out my thoughts is going to be a challenge. But hey, here’s to trying!


Active Shooter Drill Trains Medical Students With Hyper Realistic Simulations in Kearny Mesa

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This hyper-realistic hospital environment is intended to allow for the willing suspension of disbelief, stated Stu Stegall, who previously worked in Hollywood as a TV producer.

An active shooter simulation was held in Kearny Mesa Tuesday, featuring actors with multiple mock injuries and hyper-realistic medical simulations, said a representative for Strategic Operations.

Thirty students in their second year of medical school gathered at Strategic Operations at the 4000 block of Ruffin Road at 1 p.m., as part of emergency training for medical students from across the nation.

There were also Emergency Response staff from Balboa Naval Hospital and Kaiser Permanente, as well as law enforcement and Fire Department first responders.

It’s part of a week-long series of life or death scenarios such as flipped cars, active shooters and improvised explosive devices, for the Sixth Annual Hyper-Realistic Surgical Skills Week, according to Strategic Operations.

Real firefighters, paramedics and police were also involved in the simulations.

“Medical students commonly state that they do not truly understand or recognize a textbook description of a disease or a syndrome until they experience the clinically applicable version of it,” said Strategic Operations Executive Vice President Kit Lavell, in a statement.

The series was held on the back lot of the Stu Segall Productions TV/film studio and a specially constructed emergency room for the unique Intensive Surgical Skills Course (ISSC). This course is the only one of its kind in the nation, according to Strategic Operations.

The shooter drill featured live actors wearing the Strategic Operations “Cut Suit,” according to Strategic Operations. Thirty-five surgeries were performed on the “Cut Suits.” Law enforcement are first responders in the simulation which includes victims being treated in mock emergency care and simulated surgeries.

President of Stategic Operations, Stu Stegall, intended to design a super realistic hospital environment with operating rooms and the ER for medical students and doctors.

This hyper-realistic hospital environment is intended to allow for the willing suspension of disbelief, stated Stu Stegall, who previously worked in Hollywood as a TV producer.

Saliva samples were collected from the students, doctors and first responders before and after the hyper-realistic demos, so they can be used to measure stress levels, according to Strategic Operations.

Overall, the series is used to help medical students learn real-life skills they can’t pick up in a textbook.

STOPS Cut Suit — Beaver Creek’s Birds of Prey World Cup downhill


by Paddy O’Connell, photo by Dominique Taylor 

The radio squawks and your heart is a 10-pound sledgehammer. A racer on Beaver Creek’s Birds of Prey World Cup downhill course compressed awkwardly at 67 miles per hour and tomahawked through the orange safety fencing. You arrive to bloodstained snow. A femur bone—splintered like a broomstick—protrudes from the skier’s right thigh. Blood garden hoses from the wound. The patient screams in agony. His femoral artery is severed. He will die in less than five minutes if you can’t stop the bleeding. It’s all up to you.

OK, breathe. This is only a drill. The skier is a med student from Rocky Mountain Vista University School of Medicine (RMVU) wearing a Strategic Operations’ Cut Suit, a hyper realistic field surgical simulator. Even the fake blood looks, feels, and smells authentic. Another med student remotely squirts liter after liter of fake blood out of the prosthetic wound. This is the most intense of the five on-mountain training scenarios Dr. Larry Gaul, United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) Chief Medical Officer, and Dr. Tony LaPorta, professor of surgery at RMVU, are using to train 70 World Cup volunteer doctors in emergency medical procedures at a Beaver Creek seminar.

USSA has employed the Cut Suit for the last five years, to recreate World Cup injuries. The compound femur scenario comes from Aksel Svindal’s 2007 Beaver Creek crash, which nearly cost him his leg and career. The quick response of the medical staff saved Svindal. The context, and the realism of the Cut Suit produces the emotional, psychological, and physiological reactions physicians experience in a crash like Svindal’s—and force them to fight through them. “The Cut Suit creates that same stress,” says Kit Lavell, Executive Vice President of Strategic Operations. “The body engages the fight or flight response. Participants exhibit the same real life response to trauma: tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, loss of fine motor skills.”

The goal isn’t to eliminate those stressors. Performing while a patient is bleeding to death is inherently stressful. But, says Lavell, with training, you can perform better under pressure.

Back in real time, blood is sprinkling the snowpack. You drop next to the shrieking skier, ask his name, tell him who you are, and that you’re here to help. Your chest swells with quick, short breaths. Your hands shake as you pull on blue latex gloves. But you’re in the zone when the cuff snaps on your wrist. The racer’s head jerks back and he bellows as you dig your left knee into his hip crease and put pressure on the laceration with your right hand. The warm, quick flow of blood pulses through your fingers at first, but slows as you weight your knee. A toboggan with a full medical kit and tourniquet is on the way. You are the first responder at a World Cup—and you just saved a skier’s life.

From the Deep Winter issue.

Independent Duty Corpsman – More Sweat, Less Blood (SWMI Training at STRATOPS)

Video Courtesy of All Hands Magazine

Independent Duty Corpsman – More Sweat, Less Blood

RPGs fly overhead, an AK rattles off shots down the street, a Sailor screams…he's hit– STRATOPS takes Independent Duty Corpsman training to a new level. #SanDiego SWMIVideo by: Austin Rooney, All Hands Magazine

Posted by All Hands Magazine on Thursday, February 16, 2017