Artists create fake wounds for med training

Percy Pilatzke, left, lead educator with the Ornge Academy of Transport Medicine, works on recreating an injury using makeup on a mannequin while Pamela Earle, president of the Complections International Academy of Make-up Artistry, centre, and faculty member David Scott look on at the Complections International Academy in Toronto on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010. Educators from Ornge, the Ontario transport medicine service spent a week learning how to recreate injuries using makeup skills to help add a dose of realism to simulation exercises often used in medical training. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - James MacDonald

TORONTO - Members of Ornge, Ontario's transport medicine service, are typically in the business of helping to treat injuries — not create them.

But during a weeklong training session, Ornge educators were getting a hands-on lesson of their own on the intricacies of creating fake wounds, cuts, burns and fractures at a leading North American school for makeup artistry.

They don't plan on quitting their day jobs. Rather, they're applying the skills acquired from prosthetic makeup artists during a customized program at the Complections International Academy of Make-up Artistry to help better prepare first responders for their work in the field.

During the course, students tried their hand at refining life-like replications of injuries — drenching a spongy, exposed fractured tibia in fake blood and sponging on colour to enhance a swollen eye.

With more than 400 employees, including paramedics and transport medicine physicians, Ornge provides medical transport by air or ground for ill and critically injured patients.

The organization's training includes the use of a computerized human patient simulator. The mannequins come equipped with software representing physiological processes and responses seen in humans, capable of being programmed to mimic conditions like high heart rate or elevated blood pressure levels.

"Our whole focus in the simulation department is to increase patient safety and clinical competence of our practitioners," said Jeremy Knight, program manager of simulation with the Ornge Academy of Transport Medicine.

More than a year ago, Knight said he had been thinking about taking the simulation to another level.

While the clinical theory was in place, they wanted to do more to engage individuals visually and to better use all the senses in a simulation session. Knight said what was lacking was the ability to recreate injuries. He went looking for help, and found Complections fit the bill.

School president Pamela Earle said the challenge was figuring out what the appliances would look like and how they would create pieces that would adhere to mannequins.

Another requirement was having appliances that could be quickly applied, painted, removed and reset since Ornge trains 200 paramedics a year, she said.

Prosthetic makeup artist Kyle Glencross built the appliances, making, sculpting and pouring the moulds, while fellow artists Tony Chappell and Neil Morrill visited Ornge to conduct colour and adhesive testing on the mannequins.

Instructor David Scott led the intensive program where the students had a chance to try their hand at making their own appliances from scratch, allowing them to conceivably recreate any scenario.

Gelatin and a vinyl material were used for the pre-made appliances. Silicone-based and acrylic surgical adhesives, paints, theatrical makeup and blood simulated products were all part of the mix in helping add a dose of realism to simulated injuries such as open wounds, lacerations and third-degree burns.

Earle said Ornge members have discussed wanting to return to Complections for more advanced sessions.

"I'm so thankful that there are people willing to do this work. This feels very good to be helping real people train paramedics to go help others," she said. "I think we've all had a real sense of community in being able to do this."

Lead educator Percy Pilatzke said the ability to recreate injuries coupled with the use of mannequins mimicking human physiology will allow them to broaden the simulation experience. They now have the capabilities of incorporating smells in the room, so that those in training can not just see the injury but smell the blood and talk to the patient.


Complections International Academy of Make-up