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  • Writer's pictureLenora Thomas

Innovation at NAIT: Centre for Advanced Medical Simulation

Attending a Technology Alberta event is always an interesting experience, as you never quite know who you might meet, or what you might learn. This week, I had a chance to attend an ICE Event around Health and Innovation held at the Centre for Advanced Medical Simulation (CAMS).


What did I expect from the event? Networking, a light lunch, and a panel discussion on health innovation… maybe a tour of this new facility. In the end, while the panel discussion was great, the tour was way cooler than my expectations.


In my head, I was thinking back to the days of my first emergency first aid classes with the odd little mannikins. The innovative technology available at CAMS is light years beyond my early experience. CAMS offers realistic simulation theatres for professionals in the healthcare field.


Here are a few examples:

  • For paramedics, there are rooms that simulate live scenarios, everything from how to get someone out of the bathroom after a fall, to the transition from home to ambulance to emergency room. They even have an ambulance in the building!

  • For health techs, students can learn how to intubate, give IVs, or take blood sugar readings from dummies that can simulate serious health events like a life endangering blood sugar drop.

CAMS Simulation Theatre

  • For emergency vehicle drivers, there is a driving simulator that is able to throw everything from a blown tire to slick conditions into the scenario—and monitor their peripheral awareness as they go through the simulation. (Fun fact: the driving simulator is built by Edmonton’s own Drivewyze, a company that builds driver safety solutions.)


CAMS Ambulance

  • For innovators and entrepreneurs, the CAMS simulation theatres offer a chance for usability testing and end user access. For instance, a new defibrillator manufacturer could test how its device works in an operating room to validate its design and usability.

Perhaps my favourite room was their 360° immersive space that can simulate a hospital emergency room, an intersection, or even disembarking from a helicopter! It’s as close to the X-Men's Danger Room as I’ve ever experienced.

CAMS 360 Immersive Space


Not only do you get the visual impact as the entire room is used to project the visible location, you can also hear the sounds (birds chirping, helicopter blades whirring), and experience environmental factors like fog or temperature changes, wind (again… helicopter!) and somewhat more disturbingly, smell.


The simulation room can provide the odours associated with burnt flesh—thankfully we attendees did not have to undergo that experience before lunch was served.


The panel discussions around how to innovate and validate were great, but I’d go back just to see the centre again. It’s an impressive technical achievement that gives students a rich learning environment that optimizes training time, and provides close to real life experiences to better prepare them as future healthcare professionals.


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