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The mannequins that scream and give birth being used at Swindon site

New College’s newly-opened Swindon & Wiltshire Innovative Technology Care Hub (SWITCH) includes enhanced lifelike dummies that have pulses, regular breathing, changing eyes, voice capabilities, and body parts that can be swapped to feature different injuries.

These test subjects provide a groundbreaking new way for medical students to try their hand at diagnosing, treating, and caring for poorly people without worrying about causing real harm when mistakes are made.

Health and social care lecturer Corinna Davidson showed amazed visitors at the launch event how the facility’s maternity ward works by cuddling 28-day-old ‘baby’ Luna and checking in on ‘mum’ Lucy.

Health and social care lecturer Corinna Davidson with mannequins Lucy and Luna (Image: Newsquest)

The fake newborn can be intubated, resuscitated, and catheterised, and the shape of her head can be changed to represent different birthing scenarios. Students can do chest compressions on the small model human, and defibrillate it.

Lucy, like the other adult mannequins, has her facial features and vocal expressions controlled via an iPad which can make them talk, cough, and cry out in pain.

Health and social care lecturer Corinna Davidson with mannequin baby Luna (Image: Newsquest)

Her pregnant belly has a small baby that can have its heartbeat monitored while inside the ‘womb’ and viewed via an augmented reality ultrasound.

The prop infant can be delivered, along with a plastic placenta, in birth scenarios that could go smoothly or have complications such as hemorrhages, breach births, or shoulder distortions.

Dr Michael Mosley looks on as health and social care lecturer Corinna Davidson explains how the SWITCH maternity ward works (Image: Newsquest)

Corinna said: “This environment is absolutely safe, and we make sure they treat the mannequins like real people.”

In the Blossom Ward, adult and eight-year-old child patients lie on hospital beds, with a table covered in various wounded limbs that can be added to the mannequins according to what is being studied.

A New College T-Level student explains how the patient mannequins work (Image: Newsquest)

The models are the same weight as humans, move like them, and have small bladders and areas where doctors can draw blood. The pulse of the heartbeart sounds different depending on where on the body it is checked.

Dr Michael Mosley watches T-Level students examine the eyes of a Blossom Ward mannequin (Image: Newsquest)

Faculty member Rebecca Smith said: “We want to empower health and care support workers to be confident in recognising deteriorating patients and constantly preparing them to be clinicians.”

Part of the Blossom Ward in New College’s SWITCH area (Image: Newsquest)

The SWITCH site is supposed to look like a realistic hospital environment – except for one room.

The immersion suite has three walls completely covered in projections with sound and scent emitters that can be used to simulate accident and emergency wards, the inside of an ambulance, and treating patients at the scene of traffic collisions.

New College teacher David Panes in the SWITCH immersion suite (Image: Newsquest)

It also includes spots where students can stand and wear virtual reality equipment to get hands-on with different hospital situations without actually going anywhere while others watch their progress on a TV screen.

Dr Michael Mosley tries on a virtual reality headset in New College (Image: Newsquest)

Teacher David Panes will use this top tech to create impactful health and safety lessons and safely teach students how to handle dangerous situations.

New College teacher David Panes in the SWITCH immersion suite (Image: Newsquest)

He said: “It’s about teaching them the process, how they can show communcation and compassion, and making things go wrong to see how they react.”

T-Level students Livia Foulds – who wants to be a paramedic – and Amelia Higgins – who wants to go into paediatrics – voiced their views on SWITCH.

Livia said: “It’s amazing. I started this course at Cirencester College and transferred here, I thought ‘Wow! This is a big difference’.

“There’s an incredible amount of different situations you can learn about.”

Amelia said: “To see this part of the college transform is brilliant. I’m a very hands-on learning sort of person, so this is more in my wheelhouse.

“There’s no stress if you mess up, and we’ll learn the best ways of handling the situation before going on placements.”