Manchester-based Digital Training Solutions (DTS) has been chosen by the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) to develop a new, first of its kind eLearning project designed to slash waiting times and save lives.
Currently as many as one in four patients who need hospital treatment – more than a million people each year – undergo a “hidden wait” beyond the current 8-minute target because the vehicle dispatched cannot transport them there.
DTS’ innovative learning project puts emergency operation centre dispatchers in the driving seat of high-pressure, high-risk situations via interactive video simulations. Using DTS’s cutting-edge Near-Life technology, the online scenario-based course supports control room operations by improving decision-making skills.
NHS England last year announced its recommendations for changes to the ambulance service operating model and associated standards, developed through the Ambulance Response Programme (ARP).
The learner plays the role of a new dispatcher who is presented with real-time decisions, where they have to make choices about how to respond. The focus is on making learners confident to make the best allocation decisions for patients in accordance with the ARP.
The scenario was built around learning objectives and realistic events defined by a NWAS steering group, while sequences were all filmed within a real NWAS operations centre for authenticity. Using both professional actors and NWAS staff, the ‘game player’ must make decisions under time-pressure with the branching narrative unfolding according to choices made.
James Masterman, Senior Education Manager for Learning Quality at the NWAS has lead the project and can already see a wider application in the future. He said: “We hope that this tailored approach to education will ensure staff are prepared to effectively consolidate their knowledge of the new programme. The choices dispatchers have to make can be life or death and the Near-Life digital learning style will help provide a safe but realistic means of understanding best practice: helping learners to deliver the right care, at the right time, to the right place, every time.”
Mike Todd, Director of DTS, believes that there is huge potential for the emergency services in using this decision-based approach. He said: “Our Near-Life technology allows users to experience immersive, role-play style training, which enhances engagement and knowledge retention. It’s a new approach that brings this type of experiential learning into the digital space. We’re really excited to be working with the North West Ambulance Service and believe this approach can add real value across the country and ultimately help to save lives.”