Extracorporeal life support and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) are widely used for acute severe refractory cardiac and respiratory failure. An increasing number of patients are treated with ECMO worldwide. This can be attributed to technical and technologic advancements, easier access to modern equipment, and more regular and accessible training opportunities for practitioners to maintain current skills and develop new ones.
Typically, ECMO is provided at tertiary or regional centers that often are university- affiliated. In a significant number of patients, ECMO may be initiated at a peripheral hospital before they are transported to a tertiary facility by a specialized multiprofessional ECMO team. The transport phase is, however, fraught with challenges and untoward events are not uncommon during ECMO transportation, so a robust education and training program is critical to ensure patient safety and optimum outcome. This article describes the authors’ experience of developing and running a simulation-based ECMO Transport and Retrieval workshop, with multiple immersive scenarios and opportunities for participants to familiarize themselves with the process and the ambulance equipment and environment. Preparation is a key element to successfully run scenarios that are technically challenging to facilitate due to the environment and equipment involved. To date, 136 multidisciplinary ECMO providers have attended the workshop and no incidents have been reported by the authors’ teams during actual transfers and retrieval missions with patients on ECMO.