Our training days are an integral aspect of our culture and our culture is integral to our training. The owners of Flight Medic UK have worked in the healthcare industry for eight decades and we have found it tends to have a very top-down approach to management, which can result in a lack of transparent organisational culture. Aviation is years ahead of medicine in this respect, and we are seeking to bridge this gap.
Hands-on from the start
Unlike many training courses with traditional introductions, we immediately start with a team exercise – blindfolded! Lead by Jill, our Chief Flight Nurse, delegates are split into two teams with everyone blindfolded. A rope laid out in a figure of eight is placed in front of them and, while keeping two hands on the rope at all times, teams have 20 minutes to get themselves into a square! This has the immediate effect of bonding the team and promoting positivity and an open culture, which is critical to safety operations.
In this cohort, we had a mixture of experienced aviation clinicians and those new to the company. Jill put them through their paces to understand the clinical considerations required for commercial repatriation. It would have been very easy to have ‘started from scratch’ in an attempt to teach our team, but we find this demeaning considering the years of experience they have. Our approach is much more andragogical – we see this as an opportunity to learn from the experience our team has and use this as a means to develop the company.
Familiarisation with our standard equipment is fundamental to ensuring mission safety. Workshops are led by Clinical Director Andy Booth and cover all aspects of equipment use. Practising utilisation of our equipment in simulated scenarios adds a high level of realism to the day, and also gives more experienced team members the opportunity to offer advice and guidance to newer team members.
‘Human factors’ education in healthcare is a fairly new concept. Having Jill in our team to deliver this, we were privileged to be guided through a series of practical exercises, videos and short lectures to demonstrate aspects of human factors and crew resource management. Practical simulation was also used to reinforce the importance of remaining situationally aware and acting within one’s own scope of practice.
Situational overload is something that can occur during repatriation missions and Jill explained that in an aircraft emergency, crew are likely to approach a medical repatriation team to offer assistance. An exercise developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the US was used to demonstrate how one person’s brain is great, but two are even better. This was a fantastic way to end our training day and offered an instant summary of what we are all about!
React and improve
Other feedback from our teams regarding several cases in the Far East and China found that we needed to do more to break down language barriers
As a company, we pride ourselves on listening to and implementing feedback. Having listened to our team’s suggestions, we have designed a document that explains the repatriation process to our patients and provides them with advice for post-mission discharge from our care. Chief Medical Officer Dr Imran Ghafoor said that the clarity and transparency offered to readers of the document was fundamental to removing the blame culture often associated with healthcare, as all our healthcare professionals – whatever profession they are from – are required to include, within the document, their clinical registration number from their regulatory body.
Other feedback from our teams regarding several cases in the Far East and China found that we needed to do more to break down language barriers. As a result, we have created our communication flipbook, with symbols to guide assessment, diagnosis and the overall journey. The book is designed to assist communication with those who may have a sensory, physical or cognitive impairment, or for those whom English is not their first language. It will never replace an experienced aeromedical clinician who is multi-lingual, but we cannot anticipate and include all the languages of the world in the booklet, and this is an excellent means of enabling communication.
Black Box is our custom-built cloud-based case management and human resources system. We are in the process of developing a reflective practice and shared learning section that will enable our teams to offer real-time reflective feedback from their mobile devices, worldwide, via a secure connection – instantly sharing and learning.
Our training days are about giving our team the tools to operate in a different environment, recognising that they are experienced clinicians in their own field and understanding that we want them to take what they have done for many years and apply this to our environment. Developing platforms to enable instant sharing of lessons learned is key, and using technology such as secure cloud-based systems that are custom written for our organisation is a huge step forward in getting instant feedback from our teams.