At one end of a room at Perth’s main maternity hospital a newborn baby cries as she waves her arms and legs.
Within minutes she struggles to breathe, going into a seizure and turning blue around the mouth.
Across the room, the chest of a heavily pregnant woman rises and falls as she groans with the pain of labour and the prospect of an urgent caesarean.
But this is not a usual medical emergency because, despite their lifelike appearance down to real hair and “blood”, they are advanced simulated robotic patients.
Known as SimMom and SimNewB, they are part of ground-breaking technology being used at King Edward Memorial Hospital for the first time to help train midwives, neonatal nurses and junior doctors for when childbirth can take a turn for the worst.
The dolls and a newborn crib cost $100,000 and were bought by Curtin University to provide scenarios as close as possible to real cases.
Janice Butt, KEMH midwifery co-ordinator and associate director of midwifery at Curtin University, said plastic dummies had been used in the past but the new dolls were far more advanced.
Trainers sit at computers behind a one-way mirror so they can watch how doctors and nurses deal with different situations and adjust the responses of the dolls.
“We have the room set up like a labour ward and run drills where we can record what happens so we can show it back to staff,” Ms Butt said.