Hints and Tips

Below are our top hints and tips for running and writing scenarios based upon our own experiences. We hope you find it useful!

Running Scenarios

1. Try and keep them realistic
In general, try to keep your scenarios as realistic as possible. It helps get the first aiders into character and allows them to act as if the patient might be a real one...they'll then get much more out of the whole experience. If we can try and simulate some of the pressure and experience that first aiders will feel for real, hopefully the mistakes will be made in practice rather than in that one occasion when you actually have to do it for real.

So how can we make the scenario realistic?

photo of example casualty simulation Good Cas-sim (casualty simualtion) make-up: It's pretty difficult to properly treat a bleed in a scenario if you can't see any blood! So much of our first impressions (e.g. can we see blood all over the place or is it just a little splash on the arm) shape how we go on to treat something. Similarly, if the injury doesn't look realistic, you lose some of he 'shock' factor that you get when you do it for real, sending that adrenaline going before you've even started treatment! You can make some pretty impressive looking ailments and injuries cheaply with easy to buy ingredients from the supermarket. We're going to be adding an article on some great techniques very soon!

Good patient acting: the way that the patients acts is really important when running scenarios - they need to do their best to keep in character throughout! Being a patient can be really good fun and also a good learning experience for first aiders as they see how others approach a situation. Sometimes, it is hard not to have a bit of a laugh in this situation - after all sometimes it seems a bit ridiculous (perhaps you're non-pregnant mate is pretending they're in labour) but as soon as everyone breaks character, the less useful the scenario is (although perhaps more fun!). Make sure that the patient actor knows exactly how they should act in the scenario and what is expected of them at which point - the fewer times the facilitator has to interject with information the better.

2. Give good constructive feedback
Good, constructive feedback is vital. Get someone to act as a 'facilitator' - this is someone who is overseeing the scenario who knows what it is and watches how things go, checks that everything is safe (e.g. during moving and handling of the patient) and gives any information that the first aiders may need (e.g. observations). At the end of the scenario, the faciliator can help guide feedback to the group. There are a number of different ways that you can give this feedback but all of it needs to be constructive. There is always something (no matter how good or bad it seems to have gone) that went well and something that could be improved. Depending on your group you might find it useful to start the feedback by asking questions. Things like 'how did you think that went?', 'what did you do well?', 'what do you think didn't go so well?' get people thinking and reflecting on their own performance. The facilitator can then fill in any blanks that haven't been discussed. Keep the discussion positive, if things didn't go well, focus on how they can get better - what would they do next time? Perhaps this is a useful point to do some really short training points on specific skills. All of this takes time though...

3. Allow enough time
picture of clock for allowing enough time to run scenario effectively Scenarios take time...in fact they pretty much always take longer than you expect. If you don't leave enough time for the scenario to play out and progress and then give time for good feedback, then you won't get as much out of them. We reckon that you probably need at least 5 minutes for feedback (depending on the complexity and length of scenario and the skills and experience of the people doing it of course!).

4. Adapt to the needs of the group
No group is exactly the same. You might find that your have some people who are completely new to first aid and old timers in the same session. Be prepared to be a bit flexible to change the scenarios slightly to be appropriate for the skill sets and experience of the group that you are running it for. This might mean that you add a couple of extra things in for the more experienced members, or slim the scenario right down for the newbies who need a bit more support. If you have a mix of experience in the group, you could allocate different roles to the different people, or get the more experienced people to help feedback/train. Similarly, if you realise half way through a scenario that the group is really struggling to work out what to do - why not give them some help...you could pause the scenario and talk through what's happened so far and use questions to guide them through the rest of the scenario.

5. Incorporate into your normal training sessions (or even do it at home!)
Scenarios don't need to have their own special session. Of course, sometimes you will want this and is really good to do though! But it's great to try and incorporate it into your normal training sessions that cover different topics as well. Your group will become more comfortable with doing them and so get more out of them and will help keep them interested practically in the session. So next time you run a session on cardiovascular conditions, why not get them treating some heart attacks, angina or bleeds during the session?

6. Have fun!
Scenarios are a great leaning experience...but they are also loads of fun. Whether you're the patient or the first aiders they are an opportunity to practice in a safe environment, have a laugh and get better - don't forget to smile!

Writing Scenarios

1. Have a clear aim - what's the point?picture of pencil depicting writing scenarios
You have to have an idea of what you want to achieve by running this scenario - otherwise your lovingly written scenario will fall onto deaf ears and people will wonder why they've just done it. This could be multiple things though, it doesn't have to be just one! Sometimes, writing a scenario that aims to just have fun is fine - but lets be honest, if you want to just have a good time there plenty of things that'd probably come to mind first to do with the group (but yes, they are fun)! Write your scenario so that it will test a particular skill or knowledge base. You will be able to look back on it and say 'will first aiders carrying out my scenario learn more about or be able to practice whatever it is I was aiming towards?'

2. Realistic as possible for best results
This isn't always the case - there are lots of times where adding a bit of artistic license enables you to be able to get to what you are aiming for. But on the whole, the more realistic your scenario, the easier the first aiders will find it to get into character and treat the patient effectively. This means that writing it in a situation they can relate to with injuries or ilnesses that are reasonable given the history of the event you provide. You will also want to think about the practical aspects of how you will be able to run the scenario.

3. Add Detail
Scenarios that have been fleshed out have more life in them. Everyone involved will be able to get stuck in and it will encourage them to continue a good history taking and questioning technique. Sometimes you might think that your are giving more information than is needed given the injury your've assigned to the patient but let's face it, how many patients have you found who don't know how old they are, when they last had something to eat or if they have any allergies (ok, there will be some situations but then that is probably the point)?!

4. Write it to be a suitable difficulty
Don't forget that (usually) the first aiders you will be training won't be army medics or consultants in emergency medicine! Your scenario should have a suitable difficulty for the people who will be doing it - it might be a bit harsh to give two fractured femurs with a serious head injury to two people who have never done any first aid before! On the other hand, it is good to challenge and push those who are more experienced/skilled!