Blood, sweat and tears

27 September, 2017

Not many businesses would put a severed head on their list of essential items when heading to a client meeting, but for Nola Pearce of Trauma Sim it would be a disaster if she didn’t.

Pearce, a CCI Member, was a critical care nurse for several years before moving to first aid training.

It was there that she saw a huge divide in the gruesome reality of an actual major injury and what people were being taught in classrooms.

She says there is a disconnect between learning something in a classroom and applying that to real life.

“A lot of accredited training that people learn in a classroom through a power point presentation lacks any real depth, you can learn it by rote, but it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to perform when a crisis happens,” she says.

In 2008, Pearce went to the USA and did some moulage courses under the watchful eye of award-winning Hollywood special effects artists.

She learnt how to make hyper-realistic injuries using products like silicon and fake blood and has turned those skills into a booming business.

“My interest was to create some realism in that type of training,” she says.

“I went to USA and did some specialist moulage courses, and there I learnt special effects type processes to use within a health training situation. One of the trainers was an Emmy Award-winning film make-up person.”

In its eight years, Trauma Sim has grown from making up pretend casualties in emergency drills to selling the moulage products themselves and training others.

Walking into her Midvale workshop where her team hand-makes all their products is like walking into Freddy Krueger’s lair.

Trauma Sim has helped defence and emergency services operations across Australia stage realistic emergency situations that have even caused a few medics to faint.

Pearce says her first big break came in 2009 when the Australian Army first took an interest in them.

“That became a long-term contract, which is still going today. We provide that Australia-wide,” she says.

Making simulations feel as real as possible helps weed out problems with people and policies before a real incident occurs.

“You never actually know how you’ll deal with a crisis until you’re actually put into that situation—you can’t train people on the real thing so as realistic as possible is the best,” Pearce says.

“In all of the military training that we’ve done, I see quite regularly well-trained medics faint.”

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