Nola's hands-on trauma training gets results
Graduating in 1997 among the first group of critical care nurses to be trained at the University of Adelaide, Nola Pearce has gone on to apply her skills in a very unique field.
Through the use of trauma make-up (moulage), special effects and props, Nola creates realistic training scenarios to prepare medical and military personnel for emergency situations.
Having enjoyed her first attempts at basic moulage using play-dough and fake blood as a young St John Ambulance cadet, Nola later used similar techniques when training first aiders and medics.
But a lack of realism in emergency medical training in Australia led Nola to travel to the United States to undertake trauma simulation training. She was taught by experienced Hollywood special effects artists, moulage technicians and army medics.
"The US takes trauma simulation very seriously," says Nola. "Hospital funding is linked to their staff undertaking a required amount of scenario training activities each year, both internally and within the�community."
Returning to Australia, Nola founded TraumaSim, a company offering trauma simulation training.
"Over the past three years I have had the amazing experience of providing moulage and medical training equipment to the Australian Army," she says.
These mission-rehearsal exercises typically lasted for around three weeks with soldiers training in a partially scripted scenario.
"The challenge for the military contractor was to get us into the scenario without the trainees realising what was about to happen. For example, something may be going to explode and injure people," she says.
"For a middle-aged petite woman who had previously worked in the air-conditioned comfort of the public hospital system, this was a very major change."
Working as an intensive care nurse for many years before and after her graduation, Nola says that her nursing career and university qualification continue to help in her career.
"This work requires a thorough understanding of the human body, illness and injury," says Nola. "My medical background is a large point of difference between TraumaSim and other special effects make-up artists."
Nola's other role is in research and development--creating new training aids and different ways to simulate wounds, and learning new techniques from the special effects world.
"I love that my work is kind of weird and gross to many people but I do believe that it makes a huge difference in emergency training.
I've met up with many soldiers who after their time in Afghanistan have said that we really did prepare them well."
story by Genevieve Sanchez
Nola Pearce applying moulage to a 'SimMan' manikin for an Army training activity in Queensland