Pioneering Simulation that Saves Lives
Gordon Center trains doctors, nurses and paramedics on the front lines.
When a security officer came upon a man shot and bleeding in Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital parking lot, he sprang into action. First, he called for back-up. Then, with the “Stop the Bleed” traumatic care training he received just weeks earlier from the Gordon Center for Simulation and Innovation in Medical Education, the officer packed the wounds and applied the tourniquet he carried.
In February, the officer was recognized and praised for saving the man’s life.
Founded by cardiologist Michael Gordon in the 1960s, the Gordon Center began with a patient simulation mannequin named “Harvey” to train and prepare doctors and medical students to diagnose and treat heart disease.
Today, the Gordon Center uses advanced multimedia, mobile, and simulation technology to train health professionals for acute trauma, disaster response, advanced life support, and emerging diagnostic applications. Its programs are used by 2,000 medical and nursing schools, residency programs, public health departments, and hospital systems in 70 countries.
In Florida alone, the Gordon Center has reached thousands of first responders and clinical providers in 700 agencies, as well as community and state colleges in all 67 Florida counties, thanks to funding by the Florida Legislature and the Florida Department of Education.
“For 50 years, our mission has been to save lives through simulation and innovative training applications,” says Barry Issenberg, M.D., director of the Gordon Center and professor of medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “Everything we do is through a lens of how to improve care and save lives.”
Reluctant at first, academic institutions eventually embraced the novel approach to training after a pioneering study led by the Gordon Center and funded by the National Institutes of Health in the early 1980s found that skills learned via simulation could be applied effectively to real-world scenarios.
One of the first applications of the Gordon Center’s leap from clinical cardiology to the field came as researchers realized the sooner clot-busting thrombolytics were given to heart attack and stroke victims, the better their chances of recovery. Paramedics were soon trained to recognize and manage these patients in the field. The Center’s Advanced Stroke Life Support program became a flagship initiative.
As the Center moved into trauma care education, including its work with the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami, word spread. In 2002, the U.S. Army Trauma Training Detachment partnered with the Gordon Center to train reservist surgical teams prior to deployment to treat serious battlefield injuries. To date, the Center has trained 4,000 reservists.
The unique simulation center also trains the Special Operations Military Teams staff to be better prepared for emergencies. In response to the shootings at the Pulse Nightclub, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Gordon Center disseminated active shooter response courses for police and paramedics to train together.
The Gordon Center has evolved to meet society’s health challenges, including man-made and natural disaster emergency response and the growing population of older patients and those with multiple, complex diseases. Today’s virtual simulations can present patients in more contextualized cases, such as differing ethnicities, body types, ages, and even underlying non-emergency conditions, like diabetes or chronic neurologic issues.
As healthcare moves toward virtual care and telemedicine for chronic conditions, the Center is leveraging new devices. Point-of-care ultrasound allows first responders and primary care providers to diagnose symptoms using a smart mobile device instead of a machine costing thousands of dollars.
“This isn’t training for training’s sake. We’re focused on improving access to quality care while reducing errors and driving patient safety,” Dr. Issenberg says. “It’s creating solutions for people providing care on the front lines.”
The Gordon Center for Simulation and Innovation in Medical Education mission is to improve the training of health professionals and first responders to enhance patient outcomes and save lives.
To learn more, visit gordoncenter.miami.edu.