Friday, January 28, 2005

Calling All Scientists: Inventive Idea #1

In the place where I do all my best thinking -- the shower -- I came up with an idea for an invention. It started off as an image of me becoming a nurse via the United States Air Force. Then "me" became any woman in that position and that woman was whisked off to the Middle East to a combat zone where she was thrust into a tent, sometimes a building, where men were bleeding profusely from combat wounds or missing limbs or other parts of their bodies. The sites were gory, but at best always bloody. If ever there was a place where she could become an experienced nurse, it was here.

Then fast forward to a city hospital where she is working as an experienced nurse. Her time in combat has fashioned her into a respected and sought-after nurse. She has seen it all and the E.R. brings in urban combat wounds that have other nurses wanting to run out of the area to vomit. But she is strong, steadfast, and sees the patient through from beginning to end. Her time in combat has fashioned her into a disciplined, steady, and consistent worker. No time for weak stomachs when men's and women's lives are in your hands. The many thank-yous in the forms of cards, letters, and gifts tell the stories of those lives she helped save in war.

Now she stands at a podium during a meeting of E.R. nurses. She is a guest speaker who has been asked to give encouragement, provide training and advice for other nurses who are either starting out in the E.R. or have been working there for awhile and are still overcoming some hang-ups that prevent them from doing their job thoroughly and effectively. As part of her speech, she says: "I'm caught between feelings. On the one hand, I wish that I could impart to all of you the experience that I had been given when working in the combat field. It is invaluable experience and shaped me into the nurse I am today. However, on the other hand I would not wish that experience on anyone. It was a very difficult experience to have to witness so much pain, tragedy, and violence." As she speaks these words, her mind's eye replays images of the scenes she saw: Amputees, head wounds, tourniquets, and blood everywhere.

So there she is on the podium wishing she could somehow impart that experience to these inexperienced nurses who are working in emergency situations. Where time, and quick thinking applied effectively, can mean the difference between life and death.

Now the invention forms in my mind.
I see nurses placed in a virtual scenario. Bodies are coming in fast and in groups. Sometimes two will come in, then one, then another...non-stop. And each patient that comes in has to be triaged immediately. One look at the patient and a quick-assessment must be made. If the wrong assessment is made, it could mean the loss of a lot of blood and possibly death. So these nurses are in a combat scenario where the wounded are being brought in at a steady pace. The adrenaline runs high in the nurses as they rush about from patient to patient, assessing what needs to be done, grabbing bandages and wrapping tourniquets around thighs and arms to cut off blood flow.

It is all hands-on experience. The good news is that these are not real people. But they represent real flesh and blood situations. And the way the nurses handle them determines their results/output.

How can this be hands-on, yet virtual simulation?

Good question. Thus the invention is needed.
Here are the ideas I played around with:

I thought of Star Trek and the hologram room. Captain Picard could go in there and act out his dreams. Once, he was in the hologram as a detective investigating a case. He danced with a damsel and later, lit up a cigarette and drank a scotch on the rocks. I saw a Klingon go in there and learn about Klingon rights-of-passage. He acted them out...went through the process. This required fighting others sometimes.

So how did they do this? Aren't they interacting with...ghosts? Images? You cannot touch them really. Your hand would go through them. In fact, you could walk right through them. So how can it be accomplished where medical students could gain a "hands-on experience" without actually having some tragedy strike such as a tsunami, mudslide, or war?

I gave it some thought - and this is really where the scientists would have to come in. One idea about this hologram order to create it...I thought about the TV set. Imagine being inside the TV screen. You're the only flesh-and-blood item within it. Everything else is just pixels and rays of light creating images. Ok, so what if we were to take a room and this room had billions of tiny holes in the walls, floor, and ceiling. Each of these holes were necessary to allow the light of the image rays to come through. All the rays of light gathered in the center of the room...whereas, on the TV screen, I think they direct outward toward the glass...toward the viewer. So if the rays of light produced images in the center of the room...then you could basically have Princess Leia standing in the center of the room looking at you saying, "Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi. You're our only hope." Just like on Star Wars...when R2D2 produced her tiny little image on the floor after Luke Skywalker batted the back of the droid's the 4th episode (the first one that ever showed).

Ok forget the confusing stuff. But, think about Star Wars again. Remember when Chewie and C3PO were playing chess on the Millenium Falcon? Remember how the chess pieces were actually images of different creatures...and when they overtook a piece, they literally beat it up?

Ok - that's the way my mind is thinking. If there be a way to create a room where scenarios could be created...or even allow emergency personnel to train, then that would give them experience they would normally not be exposed to. BUT in the event they are finally exposed to some unordinary emergency, then they have some training behind them to fall on.

The trick is to get the images to "respond" and "react" to whatever flesh and blood is doing to them. So if you have an image of a soldier on the ground, blood pouring out of his left leg where his calf used to connect to his thigh at the knee...but it's gone... how do you get the image to interact when flesh-and-blood (the student training) wraps a tourniquet around the images upper thigh to apply pressure to the artery to stop the bleeding...and then takes his vital signs...?
How do you get the soldier's image to respond the case where the student doesn't apply the tourniquet appropriately -- or at all -- and he bleeds profusely to the point that all that loss of blood brings about his death?

So this internal computer voices out, "He has lost too much blood. The patient has expired." Then the internal computer proceeds to give instructions to the nurse as to what the nurse could have and should have done in that situation...and it re-plays the scenario, but this time the flesh-and-blood nurse is replaced with an image of a nurse. The computer shows the flesh-and-blood nurse what steps to go through. So not only does the student nurse get a "hands-on" experience, but is also trained by sort of watching a life-size, (un)real-event video.

What's the purpose of doing that? You may ask.

It would bring the student nurse into the situation with all his or her physical capacities. Tasking them. When the adrenaline begins to rush, then the true test is in how the student would perform.

Will their mind be so overwhelmed that they give up?

Will seeing the sites and smelling the odors cause too much stress on the student's physical senses that they fall short of performing a critical task under a critical amount of time that could result in life or death of the patient?

Will their senses be so overrun by adrenaline that it causes their brain to "scramble"...where they cannot think what to do next because they want to do everything all at once? (Meltdown.)

It would test the mind's capacity to think quickly and creatively in a situation.
It would test the discipline of the student - to perform steadily and consistently without being overrun by emotion or external stresses.

This is something I thought of could be beneficial to this world.
I used the war and soldiers as an example, but think of the tsunami...the landslides...wildfires...and other tragedies that this could be used to train emergency personnel. Or anyone who wants to help in the preservation of life.

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