Thursday, February 18, 2016

Red Cross Basic Life Support training: avoid the Flash based simulation option

The American Red Cross runs classes in basic life support (CPR/AED). I’m doing the professional course. 

Historically these courses have been quite good, but these days they are sometimes (always?) offered as a combined online training module and a class-based skills portion.

Which would be a good idea — if the module weren’t buggy. It’s a Flash based program, and on my new MacBook Air Flash/Chrome misses trackpad clicks. Not something one would normally notice, but the simulation requires one tap 30 times at a rate of 100-120 taps/minute. When the tap frequency exceeds about 105 clicks get dropped. One can hear the pad click, but the simulation doesn’t respond.

Two counting errors means repeating the simulation. With this bug counting errors are common.

I’ve done one module, the last one left, at least 4 times. Once my wife, watching me, saw it miss 6 of 30 clicks.

Software is hard. Server side software is very hard. It’s expensive to develop, but it’s even more expensive to maintain and revise. We compare software development to building bridges, but really it’s more like building a fancy English garden. Hard to plan, hard to create, but it’s the maintenance that really hurts.

The Red Cross shouldn’t be running this simulation. They can’t afford it. They’re not alone though. The American Board of Family Medicine recently deprecated a very ambitious patient simulation software project. They really needed to do that, but it must have been a hard call. They’d invested a lot of work and money. The reality was, they couldn’t afford the maintenance.

There’s nothing easy about software. We need less of it, done better.

Tip: If you do have to do this, try a mouse instead of the trackpad. I found the glitches distracting and stopped watching the animated hands, but that was a mistake. Click the mouse but count on the hand movement. 

PS. When it comes to abdominal trust vs. back blows for chocking adult/child the downloadable text is internally inconsistent and also inconsistent with the abdominal thrust only simulation…

Update 2/12/2016: Our in-person class had 6 participants. One didn’t realize there was an online portion — I can see missing it, communications and the web site are both confusing. At least one other person had to call support to find the online portion. Everyone had click-count problem; one young person described the simulation as the worst experience of her life (she is young).

As is typical once one person spoke of having problems everyone joined in. It seems I got off lightly.

The logic and consistency errors around foreign body/choking management are well known. The course is scheduled to be rebooted in a month; i hope the simulations will be redone or eliminated. I’d suggest the American Heart Association course instead.

No comments: