How NAIT’s ‘moulage’ team prepares students for the worst
Fake gore tests skills and the emotions
Before revealing what’s on her iPad, Jackie Krossa gives me a warning. “This is a little bit graphic,” says the Dental Assisting Technology instructor (class of ’90).
If she suspects I won’t be able to take it, she’s right. I shrink from an example (best described only as a depiction of a messy suicide) of the handiwork of NAIT’s volunteer moulage team, of which she’s a member.
These half-dozen instructors, program assistants and administrators from the School of Health and Life Sciences use makeup to create alarmingly lifelike injuries for simulation training fundamental to programs including Advanced Care Paramedic, Medical Laboratory Technology and Dental Assisting Technology.
“Moulage helps create a scene and an atmosphere.”
“Moulage helps create a scene and an atmosphere,” says Krossa.
She and the team will modify mannequins or live actors for roughly 20 different scenarios: minor and major accidents, medical emergencies such as heart attacks, gunshot wounds, bar fights and more. They’ll splash out fake blood, amniotic fluid and even vomit, complete with nauseating aroma. They’ll add a trickle of blood from an ear, blue fingertips and other details as clues to guide students through treatments.
Their scene setting is meant to test more than skills, though. It’s a stress test, too, with a profound emotional component. Keri Rempel (Emergency Medical Technology – Paramedic ’16) is proof of how important that is.
Once, as a second-year paramedic student on practicum in Grande Prairie, Rempel responded to the aftermath of a real shooting. Weeks earlier, she’d run the gamut of emotions during a simulation of that scenario at NAIT that she gratefully describes as “extremely realistic.”
They’ll splash out fake blood, amniotic fluid and even vomit, complete with nauseating aroma.
“In real life, it seemed like the second time I did it,” she says. As a result, her actions during triage at the scene were “more instinct than emotionally driven.” In fact, she adds, “The real-life situation went a lot smoother than the simulation.”
Hence the gory imagery that pops up in the classrooms and simulation theatres at NAIT. The moulage team members call that “authenticity.” Anything less may not prepare students for facing grim reality.
Krossa and her colleagues take a macabre pride in their craft, and for good reason. She flips through her iPad for another shot for me to look at and stops, smiling as she prepares me for the reveal.
“This one’s really gross.”