DasSMACC Ticket Release – 26 October 2016

das-smacc-ticket-syd-release-26-10-16The world’s best critical care conference is off to Berlin in 2016.  I’ve been lucky enough to attend SMACC events since the origin in Sydney (2013), Gold Coast (2014), Chicago (2015) and Dublin (2016).  KIdocs is proud to be a smacc-affiliated website and maintains that critical illness is an entity not bound by geography – meaning the work of the Australian rural doctor inevitably intersects with this niche.  FOAMed means there is no longer any excuse for rural docs to be up to speed with the latest in critical care, albeit limited by equipment and personnel!

SMACC has been an interesting journey for me – I’d love YOU to take part in 2017. Finally we now know what DasSMACC has in store…here are some inside tips from the SMACC organising committee that will help you prepare for the ticket release which is scheduled for Wednesday 8.00 am 26th October (Sydney Australian EST), or 22.00 London, 17.00 New York on the 25th of October for those on that side of the world.

Das SMACC Ticket Release

Delegate numbers are capped at approximately 2000 registrations again this year  as we believe this is the best  size to maintain our FOAM community atmosphere.  In an attempt to be as fair as possible here are the basics of how it will work:

  1. Registration will open on Wednesday, 26th October at 0800 Sydney EST – see here for your local time.
  2. There will be 3 separate ticket releases: the major release will be as above on Wednesday, 26th October, a smaller allocation will be released on Wednesday, 7th December and a final limited release on Wednesday, 1st February
  3. Your best chance will be with the first release, but if you really need to wait until you have leave confirmed then you can chance your hand on the February release
  4. All prior delegates will receive an email reminder the week before tickets go on sale, but there is no other preference (first in best dressed!)
  5. Owing to the limited number of spots there will be no DAY ONLY registrations issue
  6. Workshop registration also opens on Wednesday, 26th October and like last year will be on a first come first served basis
  7. If you miss out on a ticket there will be a waiting list
  8. If you miss your preferred workshop there will also be a waiting list

What ’s in the program and registration at a glance for 2016?

We have taken all your feedback into consideration and planned for:

  • Another massive day of workshops on Monday, 26th June 2017 (WORKSHOPS)
  • A single stream format only featuring the best of the best (PROGRAM)!
  • The most incredible venue: the Tempodrom
  • Fabulous accommodation deals which are essential this year as Das SMACC is just before fashion week (ACCOMMODATION)
  • Registration details are here
  • The continued innovation and convenience of onsite childcare (crèche)
  • A bigger and better SMACC party. Yes, it will be massive.


Das SMACC – Berlin

The Social Media and Critical Care Conference continues to harness the immense energy of FOAM and dasSMACC in Berlin June 26-29 2017 promises to be the best one yet.

SMACC has seen spectacular growth since its humble beginnings. The Conference has grown from an enthusiastic idea into a global leader amongst critical care events. Whilst SMACC is primarily a high quality, academic meeting, the real reason behind this growth is the enormous and inspiring energy of the critical care community itself. A community that crosses traditional hierarchies, professional barriers and international borders. This is a community dedicated to innovation, teaching and learning. A community based around the pursuit of excellence in patient care, and a passion for sharing this as widely as possible.

What Makes SMACC Different?

So, why did the SMACC conference SELL OUT all 2000 delegate registrations in minutes?

To begin with, the affiliated websites supporting SMACC represent a comprehensive list of the “who’s who” in the FOAM world. The talented clinicians behind these websites have come together and harnessed their innovation, vitality and expertise to create the SMACC experience. The strong social media connections inherent to SMACC result in an ongoing, online conversation, which in turn, empowers the delegate and enhances their experience. SMACC is focused on being a conference truly for the delegates. Delegates have a say in every aspect of the meeting, including the speakers chosen, program topics, themes and styling, social events, and the questions asked in sessions. This level of delegate interaction with the conference is unparalleled in critical care.

There have also been many positive lessons learned from the FOAM world, which have now been translated into the SMACC Conference. Lessons on how to engage, inspire and make critical care education enjoyable. We keep the talks short (15-20 minutes), choose the topics carefully, handpick speakers who we know can both educate and inspire, and discourage reliance on power point presentations. Of course, all the sessions are recorded and podcast to be released in a FREE series – creating more great FOAM!

But SMACC isn’t just about the academic presentations. SMACC is an experience. The opening ceremony, the themes of the exhibition hall and welcome events, the teas and lunches provided in the breaks and the massive Gala night, all of which are included in the one registration price, are designed to bring the group together and enhance the feeling of belonging to one critical care

Why Berlin?

Berlin is an amazing and vibrant city and has the energy capable of hosting SMACC. It is no surprise that it has become the artists’ capital of Europe. There is an intriguing combination of grittiness, openness, willingness and enthusiasm in the Berlin community, which make it a perfect destination for the FOAM community. Of course that’s to say nothing of the history, museums and bars.

Berlin is also perfectly situated in the heart of Europe to springboard any European adventure.

Portable Vomit Simulator

I’ve just got back from another Critically Ill Airway (CIA) course at The Alfred, run by intensivist Chris Nickson of LITFL.  This packed two day course is designed for anaesthetic, emergency, intensive care and rural doctors and combines a multitude of hands-on task training with immersive simulation scenarios.  Great fun and highly recommended, although heavy demand means that there is a wait list for places!

For the first time, I brought along the ‘SALAD sim’ – this is the brainchild of Milwaukee anaesthetist Dr James DuCanto; we’ve used it at smaccCHICAGO and smaccDUB airway workshops and it’s nice to see the paradigm being adopted by many enthusiasts around the globe.

Suction-assisted laryngscopic decontamination (SALAD) is a task-training technique to cope with massive emesis (whether vomit or blood).  Instructions on how to make one have been well-described by the inventor, Dr DuCanto.  See a guide here from Airwaynautics.

In past few months I’ve been looking to refine my version for easier transport and obviate problems of large pumps and power supplies.  At the Critically Ill Airway course, several people asked me how to make one.  Here’s a quick guide to parts.

The Compact Vomiquin




I like this case as it has wheels and a handle, making it useful for lugging around the countryside.  It contains power supply, a bilge pump, on/off switch mounted in casing, reservoir for fluid and is large enough to carry airway head and assorted airway kit.


I’ve drilled a couple of holes in the case

(i) to accommodate a marine grade rocker on/off switch (with light)
(ii) a tank fitting to connect internal pump & hose to the airway head, via socket/collar quick connect fitting
(iii) a threaded cap port in lid to allow rapid filling of reservoir with case closed

Port in lid for rapid “hot refill” of reservoir even when in use & lid closed


I am using the Laerdal trauma head (kindly donated by Dr Andy Buck of ETMcourse.com). This head has a metal bar that can slide via the right cheek across the mouth (obviating bag-mask ventilation, supraglottic insertion and impeding laryngoscopy) and an inflatable tongue.

I’ve kitted mine out with a cheap USB-camera on a 2m long cable, which is placed via the left nares to allow video of the oropharynx via Quicktime recording on a Macbook.

USB camera placed in oropharynx with long cable to Macbook for video of rising tide


Jim DuCanto uses a separate reservoir for his ‘simulated airway contaminant’.  I found that having another container to carry took up too much space, so have made a reservoir within the Pelican case using a sheet of perspex (plywood is fine) cut to shape and then secured with waterproof sealant.  Initial experiments with Sikaflex were OK from a waterproofing perspective but failed under rough handling.  I’ve now fibreglassed the divider into place, which adds to both waterproofing and strength. So far no problems with leaks despite multiple plane trips.

Internal divider for reservoir, reinforced with fibreglass
Internal divider for reservoir, reinforced with fibreglass & contains Rule 360 bilge pump

Simulated emesis can be made simply with water and food colouring – green for vomit, red for GI bleed.  One can thicken it up using xantham gum powder, but to be honest I’ve found liquid vomit teaches the skill as much as using thickened versions.  Omitting the use of xantham also saves on tedious pre-mixing and is easier on the pump!

Barfume used by Sim Ninja in paramedic training (chunky vomit too)

To simulate the smell of vomit, one can either use white vinegar or add ‘Barfume’ (available online from the makers of ‘Liquid Ass’ faeces odour, this is s potent ‘simulated vomit’ odour which can be mixed in with the coloured water). Kudos to sim ninja Michael Borrowdale for this one!

Using barfume means props are small and easily packed, as opposed to having to carry around litres of white vinegar or source at destination!


Rather than use a large grey water pump and variable control rheostat to control the flow,  I’ve found that a simple Rule Bilge Pump (360-500) is more than able to cope with pumping simulated vomit/blood.  Flow rate is adjusted by an inline valve which can be turned from full on (impressive spurting out of mouth, nose, eyes) through to intermittent bursts, down to a steady trickle or just ‘off’.

Head connected to inline valve, which then connects rapidly to tank-fitting on case

The inline valve is connected to a simple threaded hose fitting placed in the oesophagus of the airway head and secured with a worm-screw clip.  The lungs can be left in situ, or removed and bronchi plugged with barb caps (saves on subsequent cleaning of the lungs).


With the head stored in the Pelican case, it’s important to be able to connect/disconnect easily.  I have used standard plumbing fittings from the local hardware store.

A tank fitting is placed in a hole drilled at one end of the Pelican case and connected to the pump via flexible hose, secured with worm screw clip.  The inline valve (flow control) is then attached to the head and the whole assemblage can be attached to the tank fitting. Importantly neither head nor tank need to be rotated; the collar/cap fitting allows connection with a few turns only until tight.


I took advice from the local marine store and have used a 12V MotoBatt battery which can be recharged.  It’s secured in place with bungee and connected to a marine-grade rocker switch on the side of the Pelican case.  This means the vomit reservoir can be filled, the head connected and case closed – with pump turned on/off via the switch out of view.

Less than 100 Wh – check with airlines & CASA regarding specific carriage regulations

Having portable power means I don’t have to carry cables, worry about power supply at destination nor risk electrocution.

The MotoBatt battery is able to be carried in both ‘carry on’ and ‘checked’ baggage with airlines if is considered part of installed equipment, but do check beforehand as limits may apply based on Watt/Hours (typically less than 100 Wh).  Rules regarding carriage of batteries as ‘spare’ or not connected to equipment should be checked before travel.

The Australian Government Civil Aviation Safety Authority have a ‘dangerous goods’ app for iOS, or check out the information on batteries online, as well as with individual carriers.

I make a point to disconnect the battery from switch, protect terminal, cover switches (secure in off position) and discuss with airlines/border protection if any concerns. especially as am also carrying what appears to be a human head onto the aircraft…

Put it all together and you have a portable ‘vomiquin’.  

There’s space in the box for a couple of laryngoscopes (both DL and VL), spare suckers, bougies, ETTs, syringes, Barfume, food colouring, collapsible buckets and so on.

I have been trialling different suckers – the traditional Yankauer sucker vs open tubing vs the SSCOR Hi-D and ‘oral evacuation tool’ suckers.  Some fascinating preliminary results for flow rates of various options…

Sadly the current set up doesn’t have space for a suction unit – ideally this is available on site, but if not it will need to be carried in another bag.



So – that’s it.  How to make your own vomiquin using parts in most hardware store, and which can be easily packed up and transported (just empty the vomit reservoir using suction and dispose down sink). I can generally get this set up in under five minutes and pack away in same time (provided the suction works and a sink is handy!)

Was it a success at the Critically Ill Airway course?  Judge for yourself? I think Chris Nickson’s smile says it all…

Coming next on KIDocs :

– comparison of different suction devices (Yankaeur, Hi-D, S3, tubing)

– other techniques for dealing with massive emesis (intubation in head down position to avoid aspiration, intubation in left lateral, deliberate intubation of oesophague with 9.0 ETT to divert GP bleed etc)

Clinician Self Care : Wheelbarrows, Batteries & Tents

It’s good to see the topics of clinician self care being more commonly discussed, both in FOAMed circles and at regular conferences.  At the recent RDASA Masterclass in SA, Thinkwell psychologist Hugh Kearns and myself delivered a short session on self care, and I was thrilled to hear Dr Roger Sexton of Doctors Health SA talk at a recent GPex session for supervisors.

A service of ‘doctors for doctors’ in SA and emulated interstate doctorshealthsa.com.au

Roger has done much to establish a network of ‘doctors for doctors’ here in South Australia, with the Doctors Health SA providing a bespoke service to doctors and medical students, a group that famously fail to look after their own health.  Some pearls from Dr Sexton’s talk deserve a wider audience.  The following is based on my synthesis of his expertise from a talk he delivered recently to GP supervisors. Check out more at the Doctors Health SA website

Look after the Wheelbarrow, the Battery & the Tent

Have a hard look at HOW you work in your practice. Many of us are busy, making numerous decisions in a time-pressured environment.  Whilst many people think decision-making in an emergency is stressful, I find that my work in ED or prehospital environment is far less stressful than that in the consulting clinic.  The former situation (let’s say a resus or sorting out an unwell patient) is relatively straightforward – there’s a simple algorithm (ABC…), there are established techniques to help teamwork (shared mental model, closed-loop communication, use of cognitive aids and appropriate resource allocation etc) and the momentum is usually upwards (from critically sick, to stabilised).

Whereas in clinic (especially in primary care), the problem is often poorly-defined (early stages of disease are far-removed from textbook descriptors), there is a huge element of gestalt and risk (sieving the important from the inconsequential) and there are limitations of time and resources (no pan scan or immediate access to investigations).  No small wonder that doing good primary care well is an intellectual challenge – often underestimated by those who’ve not done it – and sadly all too east to do poorly.

Whichever situation (whether a prehospital clinician, an emergency room clinician or a primary care clinician), one thing is certain – you have limited time, limited resources and important decisions need to be made with safety-netting. Three concepts can help you in your busy day.
THE WHEELBARROW : like this garden tool, you only have a finite carrying capacity. In short, there is only so much load you can carry.  The lighter the load, the easier it is to get ahead.  Problem is, everyone wants to dump THEIR problems into your barrow. Therefore you need effective tools avoid unsustainable load from being dumped in your barrow!

A common strategy is the idea of ‘sticky fingers’.  Imagine if someone dumps a problem or task into your barrow.  With ‘sticky fingers’ you HAVE to pick it up and look at it – but here’s the trick – once picked up (or accepted) you must do ONE of only three options

  • deal with it (this is YOUR problem to deal with so sort it out)
  • delegate it (tasks that can be devolved to others should be, where possible)
  • dump it (unnecessary work should be declined or dumped)
Always look for an opportunity to dump your load...
Always look for new opportunities to dump your load…

As doctors we are inculcated through training to try and be helpful – to solve problems. Moreover as (mostly) successful high-achievers, we tend to thrive on problem-solving and are used to taking on extra work.  This a trap for new players – particularly in the first year or so post-Fellowship, when there is a natural temptation to take on exra work on committees, running rosters or running projects.

My advice? Play the long game. Take on small bite-sized chunks of work and be effecctive with them. And learn the art of saying ‘No’ (the phrase…”I’ll have to check my diary and get back to you” is an effective strategy to avoid the natural temptation to please others and say ‘yes’ to new work).

Try and recharge through the day...
Try and recharge through the day…

THE BATTERY : ever got home at the end of a busy day and felt mentally and physically exhausted? Of course.  decision-making and stress can pound the adrenals.  Getting home exhausted may lead to slumping on the couch and ‘vegging out’ – an inevitable result of the batteries being run down throughout the day. Why is this? As a clinician, we are a source of energy for others. Our decisions, our leadership are important parts of the team.  But giving off energy, especially in multiple repeated consults, can rapidly deplete the battery.

So – try not to let the battery run down!  Make an effort to recharge throughout the day and keep your batteries charged.  Take breaks. Book ‘catch up’ slots. Get out of the office in lunch break and take time to walk around the block.  Spend some time in the sun. Interact with work colleagues where possible. When rushed, make an effort to slow down. Breath. Be mindful and ‘in the moment’.  Spending 10-15 mins a day in meditation or ‘being mindful’ is beneficial.

Make a conscious effort to find something positive in every interaction, even if ostensibly challenging from outside appearances.  We are privileged to deal with patients throughout life’s rich tapestry. Appreciate this.

Resilience - the tent canvas is the outer protection. The guy ropes are supports
Resilience – the tent canvas is the outer protection. The guy ropes are our supports

THE TENT : clinician resilience is something I am interested in.  I think we need to develop skills in both cognitive resilience (making decisions under pressure) as well as emotional resilience (dealing with the impact of our work).  Although challenging, being comfortable to demonstrate our soft vulnerability (rather than a hard unbreakable veneer) can be an interesting space to throw up improvements. As Brene Brown says, being vulnerable is about courage – to allow ourselves to be seen as fragile human beings.  And understanding vulnerability can be the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.

So – our outer protective shell – the canvas of our tent.  This layer – call it RESILIENCE – protects us from the elements. rather than being rigid and inflexible, it is soft…deformable…yet affords wonderful protection even under significant pressure.  Resilience is something that can be cultivated.

Of course we need supports – much like guy lines of a tent, we will need to cultivate and anchor ourselves to supports around us – our family, our friends, our colleagues.  Maybe outside interests – whether sport, a hobby, religion…whatever.  These anchors add to our resilience.

“Have a look at what’s happening in YOUR typical work day.

How well looked after are your wheelbarrow? Your battery? Your tent?”



Some other important factors for long term clinician self care

As well as thinking about your wheelbarrow, your batteries and your tent, have a think about other protective approaches to long-term clinician resilience – to keep thriving and surviving…

Have a health check : senior executives in corporations have annual health checks. How many intensivists do this? How many surgeons? How many GPs?

Get good independent advice : do NOT fall into the trap of self-diagnosing or ‘corridor consults’ with colleagues – see your GP!  But as well as seeking expert independent advice for your health, make sure you have appropriate advise for finances, for mental health (seeing a counsellor 6 monthly can be a powerful ‘future proofing’ technique).  Seek out mentors (SoMe and FOAMed helps). And if a specific area of your life is struggling (relationship, career, spiritual) then seek appropriate expert advice.

Get fit : shift work and busy days take their toll. Make time to exercise. Get your 10,000 steps in each day. The healthier you are, the easier your work will be.

Rediscover your passion : think about what you’ve given up to be where you are today.  Medical training is gruelling. University and postgraduate training eats into the time from school through to late 20s as a minimum.  Whilst those in non-medical jobs may enter into the labour market early, contributing to house purchase and superannuation, clinicians-in-training work long hours for little reward for the first decade.  Financial security comes late and may be compounded if working in private practice (no leave, superannuation, significant practice costs).  think what you’ve given up to do medicine – friendships, sports, holidays, time with family. Is it worth it?  Make time to rekindle the passions you’ve given up.

Mobilise endorphins : the best sources of endorphin are NOT the Doctors Bag or Drug Cupboard (although this is also a common trap for some!).  Natural highs are found through seven sources – laughter, sex, exercise, crying, singing, music, & meditation.

Value relationships : with spouse, with family, with colleagues, with friends…and with patients!

Have roles and fulfil them : not just our role as a clinician (indeed, one should try not to define worth through ‘doctoring’) Instead anchor yourself to other roles – as parent, as partner, as colleague, as coach etc.

Fulfil existential needs : much as we should acknoledge our vulnerabilities, we shoudl also ensure our existential needs are met. As humans we crave love, hope and meaning in our lives. Teaching is a common strategy to ensure our work has meaning (remember the origins of the term ‘doctor’? Docere, to teach). Control is also important in life; lack of control over one’s destiny (common when working as a salaried junior) can be a big contributing factor to dissatisfaction and burnout.

Recognise WARNING SIGNS and HAVE A PLAN : evaluate your wheelbarrow, your batteries and your tent on a regular basis. If something is failing, do something about it!
DoctorsHealthSA is running workshops (the next is September 2016).  Many conferences include speakers on self care and resilience nowadays. At the very least, make sure YOU have a GP and ensure you have regular health checks.


Bren Brown on vulnerability ‘ https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability

Thinkwell – Hugh Kearns and Maria Gardener on clinician self care http://iThinkwell.com.au

Doctors Health SA – doctors for doctors (and medical students) – http://www.doctorshealthsa.com.au

Jellybean with Paramedic Rusty – http://lifeinthefastlane.com/jellybean-040-paramedic-named-rusty/

Unpacking the New GP Registrar

Just back from a two day GP Supervisors conference in Adelaide.  Attendance at these events is mandatory for GP supervisors.  Training primary care providers for the future in Australia has seen some changes over the years – responsibility for training was removed from the College (RACGP) in 2002 and devolved to ‘regional training providers’ or RTPs, of which there were many across Australia.  A criticism of this was duplicaiton of processes and resources for a system which, like other specialty training programmes, could and should be under the control of the College!

A shakeup occurred in 2015, with the culling of many RTPs in an attempt to avoid duplication and the establishment of a streamlined network of ‘regional training organisations’ or RTOs. Needless to say some winners and losers across the nation.  They sit under the auspices of the Dept of Health Australian General Practice Training.  Again the DOH control the training, although RACGP and ACRRM now determine entry to the programme.

won the contract for South Australia and are now responsible for funding training and ensuring access to training materials, with registrars following either FRACGP or FACRRM pathways.

I will keep my thoughts about the content of the conference to myself as it’s inevitable to compare content with that delivered by other RTOs.  Needless to say a good conference combines necessary updates in training requirements with innovative content to help supervisors be more effective in their supervision.  Of course other organisations, not least GP Supervisors Australia can help refine supervisor skills….

I see supervision as an apprenticeship – of course it’s necessary to ensure mandatory competencies across the breadth of general practice are met. To their credit, GPex have introduced the ‘GP365’ model of critical case analysis, backed up by development of a personalised learning plan.  Of course those registrars on the rural pathway need to bolt on additional skills in emergency medicine as a minimum and perhaps one of anaesthetics, obstetrics or surgery.

Content from GPex Supervisors Manual 2016
Content from GPex Supervisors Manual 2016

Whilst acquisition of either FRACGP or FACRRM is the focus of most trainees, I consider it my duty to inculcate tools for lifelong learning.  No surprise that this leads my trainees into discussions on metacognition, on heutagogy, on FOAMed and so on.

Many of my supervisor colleagues will invariably be keen to develop skills on how to give feedback, on dealing with difficult consultations (prescribing drugs-of-dependence is a common issue) and of course dealing with risk and uncertainty…along with the myriad of complexities around Medicare billing!  Much of medical training at undergraduate and postgraduate training is hospital-based…as a consequence new GP trainees are ill-equipped to deal with uncertainty, to made decisions based on limited information with no immediate access to investigations and to practice as “one doctor-one patient-one room”

“Sadly the skill is HARD to do well – but all too easy to do poorly”

I would maintain that delivery of GOOD primary care is an exhilarating blend of risk, uncertainty and good medicine – across the breadth of practice, not the narrow lens of partialist practice.

"GPs Down Under" - a closed Facebook group
“GPs Down Under” – a closed Facebook group

Of course our colleagues and our patients judge the specialty of primary care according to the lowest common denominator – hence my enthusiasm for initiatives such as FOAMed to broaden corridor conversations and narrow the knowledge translation gap.  SoMe platforms such as the closed ‘GPs Down Under’ Facebook group can also help normalise practice amongst disparate practitioners, as well as unite on issues such as the Medicare freeze etc.


GPex does provide a rather excellent ‘GP Supervisors Manual‘ through their online resource package (amusingly called ELMO).  Despite this, some new supervisors seem uncertain on how to start off with a new GP reg. A couple of us came up with the idea of a short ‘how to’ guide for ‘unpacking the new GP registrar’.

I based this together in the airport on the way back to KI post conference  – whilst the content is specific to GPex, it may be of interest to others. It’s tongue-in-cheek and a bit rough and ready…your feedback is appreciated.



Australian College of Rural & Remote Medicine (ACRRM) – http://acrrm.org.au

Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) http://www.agpt.com.au

Common Primary Care Presentations – racgp.org.au/…/common-general-practice-presentations

GPex http://www.gpex.com.au

GP Supervisors Australia http://gpsupervisorsaustralia.org.au

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) – http://www.racgp.org.au/home


As PDF file
As Powerpoint file (converted from Mac)
As Keynote (original)
As Video file (narrated slideshow version)

Refinements on SALAD Sim

Along with many others, am playing around with various combinations of airway trainer, simulated vomit, pump and suction to develop a self-contained portable SALAD sim (SALAD – suction assisted laryngoscopic airway decontamination)

SALAD is of course the brainchild of James DuCanto, Milwaukee airway fanatic and well known to the FOAMed world. Instructions on the SALAD set up are here and training videos here

I’ve had the privilege of assisting Jim in airway workshops in Chicago and Dublin as part of the smacc conference series most recently assisted by UK anaesthetists Ben Shippey @rallydoc and Barbara Stanley (@theneurosim).  We’ve managed to train several hundred people in the nuances of airway decontamination, under both ‘static’ (simple deposit of simulated airway contaminant) and ‘dynamic’ tests (an ongoing tsunami of vomit which threatens to overwhelm the intubator unless master the art of continuous suction whilst intubating – not as easy as it sounds!)

SALAD sim shenanigans in Dublin
Barbara Stanley (@TheNeuroSim) ready to serve up some SALAD in Dublin
Even experienced airway operators feel the pressure under the SALAD Sim (smacc Chicago 2015)


The future challenge will be to create a SALAD sim set up that is both compact & self-contained

Present SALAD setups rely upon an open container of ‘simulated airway contaminant’ (a heinous mix of xanthem gum, white vinegar and food colouring) which is then pumped to the oropharynx using variously

  • a drill-powered inline siphon pump
  • a submersible bilge or pond pump
  • a dirty water sump pump


Flow rates can be adjusted by either use of inline valves or a variable rheostat speed-controller to reduce pump speed and hence flow of vomitus.

The contaminated airway is then suctioned out, using a medical grade suction device. I struggled with this in Dublin, as the two loan units rapidly became overwhelmed…I didn’t realise that the bags within suction cannister are designed as single use and the inlet valve soon became clogged.

In contrast Jim DuCanto’s units (from SSCOR) functioned brilliantly despite multiple rounds (200 litres each I reckon) of vomit passing through.

The SSCOR Medical Grade Suction Pump performs brilliantly - but this, submersible pump & head consume a lot of space!
The SSCOR Suction Pump performs brilliantly – but suction, submersible pump & head consume a lot of space!

Problem is, lugging around suction pumps, submersible pumps and the containers for vomit is quite bulky.

The purist in me wants to design a closed system, namely

  • bladder which can be removed, filled with vomit and then emptied at end of session
  • both submersible pump and suction pumps small enough to sit within Pelican case and be self-contained
  • suctioned contents to be automatically returned to the bladder, for further pumping to airway head
  • controls for pumps to be available on outside of case, once closed
  • variable controller built in

So the challenge will be to create something that can be carried in a Pelican case (Storm IM2500, on wheels).

It might look something like this:

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 1.24.28 PM


I’d envisage the whole unit being self-contained, the “simulated airway contaminant” (vomit) being cycled from bladder to oropharynx and back via the two pumps.

Bladder needs to be removable for filling/emptying at start/finish of session and able to tolerate periods where inflow < outflow (suction out < pump in to oropharynx).

Ideally the whole unit should function with lid of Pelican case closed, with control switches for pumps accessible on outside.  Marine rocker switches are ideal, as would a variable control rheostat panel control, flush with case.

Marine rocker switch
Marine rocker switch

A simple mains socket could be mounted in the Pelican case, such that the SALAD Pelican case can be plugged into mains power.

Really interested to hear from anyone with ideas on how to make this happen…preferably on a budget!