SIMS WARS winners
UofL Hospital emergency nurses, from left, Frankie Parra, Beth Sum, Nate Davison and Bridget Genardi won the SIMS WARS emergency simulation competition at a conference held by the Kentucky State Council of the Emergency Nurses Association at The Campbell House in Lexington this month.

A team of emergency nurses from University of Louisville Hospital took first place in a state competition of emergency medical skills.

UofL Hospital beat six other teams from hospitals in the region to take top honors in the “SIM WARS” emergency simulation competition. The competition took place this month at a continuing education conference held by the Kentucky State Council of the Emergency Nurses Association at The Campbell House in Lexington.

Each team of four emergency nurses was presented with an emergency scenario in which they had to apply their skills to save a patient. The patient was a life-like mannequin programmed to talk and interact with the team, telling them what was wrong and where he was hurt. The mannequin had a heartbeat and was breathing as a person in distress would.

The team made an assessment and treated the mannequin in detail, just as they would a real patient that was brought in by EMS. The competition took place in front of a panel that was in the room, judging their skills and timing.

The team from UofL Hospital included Frankie Parra, Beth Sum, Nate Davison and Bridget Genardi, all BSN. “I have to say I am really proud of these guys,” said Patricia “Trish” Higgins, interim director of emergency services for UofL Hospital. “It meant a lot for them to win.”

The Emergency Nurses Association was formed for nurses in emergency health care to pool resources, set standards and improve emergency nursing, and currently has more than 40,000 members in more than 35 countries. Its mission is to advocate for patient safety and excellence in emergency nursing. The association has chapters in each state, and three chapters in Kentucky.

SIMS WARS was sponsored and judged by Air Evac Lifeteam, an air ambulance company.

Parra, who is the emergency nurse educator at UofL Hospital responsible for training new nurses, said he had attended the conference last year and wanted to return home this year with a win. Parra has been an emergency nurse for seven years, and at the hospital for nine.

“It’s neat to put our name out there and what we do,” Parra said. “We focus our training on what it would be like in real life.”

He said it takes a special type of person to be an emergency nurse. “You have to be flexible, and handle whatever comes at you,” he said. “It can start as an easy day, but very quickly turn around. It’s all about being ready. You have to be prepared for the worst.”

While he trains new nurses, he said the rest of the team would have been just fine in the competition without him.

“They are very talented,” he said.

Higgins said Parra and the team are part of a younger, up-and-coming generation of emergency nurses.

“This is how we work every day,” said Higgins, who has worked in emergency medicine for 17 years. “There is a lot of teamwork in the emergency department. I’ve worked in a lot of other emergency departments, and I’ve really noticed the teamwork here. The ER nurses here are a special group.”

Sum has been an ER nurse for a year after graduating from college. Parra said that speaks to Sum’s talents.

“To work at a Level 1 trauma center as a new graduate is quite a challenge and accomplishment,” Parra said. “Those like Beth who do really have what it takes, it’s an elite group of nurses.”

Sum said she loves her job.

“You never know what you are going to get. It’s a lot of variety, but you have to be able to handle the stress.

“It’s a great group of people to work with. Just when you think you’re flooded, there are three people behind you saying, ‘How can I help?’ That’s what makes us different.”

She and Parra said that in the end, it’s all about the patient.

“We have to be prepared – for them,” Parra said. “They are the motivation for the good work we do here.”