Sunday, December 28, 2008

The POD Game by CADE

During a public health disaster or emergency, it may be necessary to give large groups of people vaccines or medication to prevent or reduce illness. Public health preparedness efforts have focused on methods for accomplishing this rather daunting task. In the case of an anthrax attack, people in an entire region may need to receive medication within a very short time frame - 48 hours! How in the world can this be accomplished? One method planners have come up with is the POD, or Point of Dispensing site. These are essentially medication dispensing clinics where the goal is to get the medication distributed to the individuals who need it - FAST. Potentially millions of people may need to receive medication so this is not the time for face-to-face time with the nurse, pharmacist, or doctor!

The hundreds, or thousands, of staff and volunteers who would be called upon to work at PODS must focus on following the procedures to provide information, identifying those who are sick, and KEEPING THE FLOW MOVING. Since PODS are only to be used in disasters (the closest model may be a flu shot clinic - without the urgency) it is difficult to train the workers on what they must do and how they can do it during the chaos of an emergency. Also, this is a change for providers in that they are not doing in-depth histories or diagnosis. This online game was produced by Center for the Advancement of Distance Education, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago in 2006.

The POD game provides the scenario of an anthrax attack and the player is asked to select a role (medical screener, forms, or dispensing) and is then thrust into a simulated POD with the task to complete a certain number of a cases within 15 minutes and to help the POD reach its target flow of 1200 people per hour. There is a que of patients who present as video snippets and the player is given a choice of responses and actions they are tasked to complete. The player must select the appropriate response to avoid spending too much time with any one person and to refer them to special stations or call for assistance when needed. The time left and flow rate are constantly visible and feedback and corrections are instantly provided to reinforce the objectives. On top of selecting the right response to the individual, the player must also balance additional tasks such as making sure the supplies don't run out, requesting assistance from the appropriate party, and in the case of the dispenser - selecting the appropriate medication and calculating the dosage.

The POD game is a fun solution to the training needs for mass dispensing workers. Not only does it provide the possibly dry concepts and principles, it also provides experience in executing tasks in a difficult and unfamiliar setting. It also avoids the time and resource intensive half-day training that is the frequent alternative for many planners.


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