Life Happens

I made a promise when I started this blog that I would do my best to write something once a week, however life happens and I missed a week ago. My excuse is that I had an Angioplasty procedure in which stents were inserted into 3 arteries to combat angina symptoms and the early development of heart disease, a week ago Friday. A most interesting if somewhat strange and unsettling experience.

While on the table having the procedure, it did occur to me that the training for cardiologists in this, what to me was a very technical, precise and potentially dangerous procedure, must be quite a difficult thing to implement. In some respects it’s not a whole lot different to training pilots to fly large passenger aircraft. You don’t want them rehearsing take off’s and landings and other tricky maneuvers on real aircraft, and so large, and very sophisticated simulators are used to get pilot skills up to scratch.

I wonder if Cardiologists have similar simulation technologies to practice the very tricky method of getting a stent into the right place, inflating the balloon that expands the stent, (at something like 6 times the pressure of a car tyre, I was told afterwards) and then retrieving all the installation hardware and closing off the artery.

All this I thought pretty bloody amazing and big ups for my Geordie cardiologist who did the job and was well pleased with himself for the elegance of his work. Not nearly as pleased as I was with him I might add. This whole procedure, though quite stressful and a bit uncomfortable, was so much less arduous that open heart surgery would have been. It’s also a huge testament to modern technology and the cardiologist’s skills. When you think that the route they take is through the femoral artery in the groin, up though the artery to the heart itself, you get some notion of the extraordinary skill and techniques involved, not to mention the care and support from the other staff involved in the whole process. However they do the training, it works a treat, but I’d be interested in finding out a bit more about it.

This blog entry is also a bit late as well, this time due to the huge earthquake that hit Christchurch and a good deal of Canterbury 4 days ago. No loss of life, which was pretty bloody amazing, but huge damage and many lives impacted in very serious ways. After the awesome shake, (and I use awesome in its intended meaning here), which we felt very intensely some 130 kms from Christchurch – so God only knows how it felt for those poor sods in Christchurch, Kaiapoi and Darfield – the stunned aftermath and the awful reality has set in. Lives have been changed forever for more than two-thirds of the population of those places. 100,00 of an estimated 160,000 homes have been damaged, most seriously and life is going to take a long time to return to anything near to resembling normality.

One very comforting aspect of this has been the really excellent work done by the civil defence people. Again this is something that only simulated training and rehearsal exercises can prepare you for. That and the lessons learned in other less dramatic events become the handbook of what to do when the proverbial effluent hits the air con.

In the context of eLearning there are several things that come to mind from these two experiences. The power and value of simulations and the manner in which lessons learned from previous events are documented and made available in a usable manner for future access and use. It also occurs to me the fragility of electronic and digital technologies when something like an earthquake hits. With power cut off, cell phones and the internet were also affected. Cell phones because the battery back up for the networks were quickly run down because of the massive overloading of the system and the Internet because power is required to both run computers and the modem/routers that provide connection to the WWW. So even is you were able to use your battery enabled laptop, you could not access the internet. Says something about the need for some information to always be held in hard copy. I’d hate to thing what the story would be if civil defence were reliant on the Internet for accessing their critical response documentation.

Well that’s it for now, more later.

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