By Philip Camillocci
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a first-person account of Philip Camillocci’s second trip to Cambodia to train students in Phnom Penh, Cambodia as part of a Engineering World Health program. His first trip was featured in a Biomed Adventure story in the June 2015 issue of TechNation magazine.
In December 2014, I donated three weeks of vacation time to go to Phnom Penh Cambodia to teach Biomedical Electronics to students from hospitals around the country. This program was created and started by Engineering World Health (EWH) and they partnered with University of Puthisastra – Faculty of Health Science.
During the summer I stayed in contact with the EWH team and provided what support I could from the U.S.
In October 2015, Steve Goeby, the program manager, reached out to me and invited me to return to teach again if I was available. We exchanged a few emails on the timing and subject lessons they would like taught. I accepted the invite and started working on the material.
The EWG program has expanded to four groups of students and wanted me to teach the new students. I was able to schedule three weeks of vacation time with my manager, who supported me in this project. After reviewing the requirements with the local EWH staff for the new students it was decided that I would review infant incubators, radiant warmers and touch on resuscitation systems, infant photo therapy equipment and uninterruptible power supplies.
I researched and put together the course material in a PowerPoint format. I uploaded copies to Dropbox so that the local EWH staff could have the material translated into Khmer and printed into study guides for the students by the time I arrived.
I scheduled my trip for December 5 through the 28. I flew out of West Palm Beach to Atlanta and then took a connecting 15-hour nonstop flight to Seoul Korea. I then had a connection for another five hours to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I left the U.S. at 7 a.m. on Dec. 5 and arrived at Phnom Penh at 10:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6. I crossed the international dateline somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.
The local EWH staff let me sleep in on Monday. Tuesday, we started the students with Infant Incubators – Radiant warmers. When I created the material I combined the two into one presentation as they are both closely related with infant care. I present the lecture material with the help of a translator over the next two days. We had available three older infant incubators and two overhead radiant warmers for the students to work with.
After allowing them to operate and check out the equipment I set up a lab exercise. I put them on break outside of the classroom. I moved the radiant warmers aside and set up the three incubators at three stations. I then introduced a fault in each unit and verified the symptoms and operation. I then had two students each rotate through each station, documenting the systems and their troubleshooting steps and what the fault was.
Week two started with the review on phototherapy equipment. There we two overhead Bili-lights and fiber optic units available for the students to work with. Once we finished with the lab exercise we moved on to Uninterruptible Power Supplies. The students found this course helpful as electrical grid in the rural areas of the country, where most of them worked, is very unreliable and subject to brownouts and blackouts during the hot season. The Cambodian government is working to improve the electrical system in the country and had just opened a new hydroelectric dam, one of many projects the country is investing in.
Week three, I assisted the EWG trainers’ review of infusion pumps and syringe pumps. After the material review, the students got to work with a couple of different types of syringe and infusion pumps. For the lab exercise, I created faults with the pumps and had the students rotate through stations writing up the systems, troubling shooting steps and the fault.
The course for the students centered on electrosurgical units. Two units were available for the class and lab exercise.
During this week, one of the students had a service request from his hospital. They received a donated mobile C-arm unit from Australia. The unit needed new batteries when it arrived and it took the hospital months to locate and obtain batteries for the unit. The batteries were installed but no one knew how to check the unit out. The C-arm was declared “end of life” by the OEM in December of 2007 and there is no biomedical or service support structure in Cambodia yet.
The hospital asked me to check the C-arm out and then give them a class on its use. I went out to the hospital with two members of the EWH staff and the student. We checked out the C-arm and tested its operation and found everything working correctly. We scheduled a day to return and train the hospital staff. We took the class over to the hospital as an opportunity to do training. The training went great and now the hospital staff has a new tool to help improve patient care that they were not able to use before.
That is the main focus of the EWH project. To train biomed technicians from the ground up, to be able to return to their hospital, keep the equipment serviced and running to improve patient care in a developing country. On average 70 percent of the equipment is out of service and gathering dust because no one is trained to service it or show the hospital staff how to use it.
So supporting a very worthwhile project such as Engineering World Health’s Biomedical program is very satisfying and worth the effort to help improve patient outcomes.
– Philip Camillocci is a graduate of the U.S. Army Medical Equipment and Optical School. He has been in the biomedical field for 30 years and is an Instructional Developer for GE Healthcare.
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