Multi-agency Emergency services have tested their skills in a series of exercises led by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, aimed at improving patient care and also developing the skills of medical students.

During the summer a number of exercises have been held, involving the Wales Ambulance Service, Beaumaris RNLI, North Wales Fire & Rescue Service and the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue team.

The challenging scenarios tested their skills in dealing with ‘patients’ with a range of injuries, who required emergency treatment and time-critical transfer to hospital.

Consultant Anaesthetist, Suman Mitra, from Ysbyty Gwynedd, said the exercises are providing more skills for medical students for their future roles. He said: “Over the last six years I have had a number of medical students from Cardiff University come up to North Wales to take part in these projects with myself and our partner agencies.

“Not only do they teach them how to do simulation but how to use simulation in medical education.

“I have had fantastic feedback from students over the years, they have taken what they have learnt with them to conferences around the UK and as far as Australia.

“They leave us with a whole new set of skills as well as knowledge as they progress through their career.”

Not only are the exercises improving the skills of medical students they are also providing benefits to the staff from each agency involved.

“I try and do these types of exercises with the Wales Ambulance Service every month and from time to time the North Wales Fire & Rescue Service also get involved.

“This provides us with the time to remind ourselves what we all do, the kind of equipment we carry, the kind of patient care we deliver, and so if something bad happened and we end up in a situation side by side we’d all be speaking the same language.

“Personally for me I always want to work to improve patient care before they reach the hospital.

“I manage to keep my skills and knowledge up by taking part in the exercises and I think the more we do these kind of projects with junior doctors and medical students it will continue to improve patient care in the long run. By taking part in these scenarios they will know what to expect when a patient comes through their door when they are eventually working in a hospital.

“These scenarios offer valuable realistic training which will enhance the skills of everyone who take part. This will undoubtedly benefit the people of North Wales and the quality of treatment they receive,” added Dr Mitra.

Learning and Development Manager for Welsh Ambulance Service, Keith Dorrington, said the projects help the emergency services prepare for an unfortunate event.
He said: “By doing these projects in a controlled environment we all learn from each other and enable colleagues to deliver the best possible care to those who are unfortunate enough to need it.

“These projects are an ideal opportunity for us to practice our skills and prepare for those unfortunate events.

“It also gives us an insight into each agency and shows us the other’s capabilities, more importantly it gives us all the chance to work together in a real environment.”

This year was the first time that Beaumaris RNLI has been involved in the exercises and they are now keen to take part in several more.

Connor McCarron, Beaumaris RNLI lifeboat Helmsman, said: “We have taken part in some scenarios previously with the fire service and the HM Coastguard but never with doctors and the ambulance service.

“We don’t get many first aid calls, most are to broken down boats and people in distress. As volunteers we need to practice regularly to prevent skill fade, so it was nice to do a scenario which was very realistic so we could practice these vital skills.

“I would definitely like to do more of these scenarios – they are extremely beneficial for us here at the RNLI.

“It’s been a great opportunity to understand more what our partner agencies do – getting more experience of that has been really beneficial for us.”

The simulation exercise with the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Team was carried out to the rear of Oggi Base.

Chris Lloyd from the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Team said: “The exercise was very well organised and it was of great benefit to the team members as they were working with health care professionals and with unfamiliar casualties, all of whom could give good feedback.

“We look forward to further training with unfamiliar faces to enhance the reality.”

Mike Owen, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service Locality Manger for Gwynedd & Anglesey, added: “The opportunities for joint agency exercises are a real benefit for NWFRS personnel and we have been fortunate to participate in a number of realistic training events in conjunction with Dr Mitra’s team.

“These exercises allow our first attending crews to liaise, prepare extrications and hand over casualties to trauma care practitioners in a safe learning environment which benefits our teams and the communities we serve.”


Photos from the simulation exercises carried out over the summer with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, Beaumaris RNLI, North Wales Fire & Rescue Service, Ogwen Mountain Rescue, Wales Ambulance Service and medical students from Cardiff University.

Photos: InFocus Photography