Tips & Tricks - Building a Simulated Patient Headwall

| cassie

At CAE Healthcare, we care about our customers getting the most out of your simulator(s) easily and efficiently. That is why we have started an engaging new Tips & Tricks blog series.

Tips & Tricks #5 - Building a Simulated Patient Headwall

1. This tip requires some construction know how and will build a headwall measuring 6ft tall and 42 inches wide.  You will need the following supplies, which are available at most home stores.  If you are unsure as to what to buy, take this list to the home store, and a representative of the store can help you:

  • 6-8 ft. 2x4 studs (wood or metal)
  • 1- box 2½” Drywall screws (coarse thread) or 1 box ¾ “ self drilling metal screws
  • 2“ drywall screws (fine thread)
  • 1-4x8 sheet of ½ “ drywall
  • 50 ft. length of 3/8” air compressor hose (with fittings)
  • 50 ft. length of ¼” PVC tubing
  • 1-3/8“ barbed “T” fitting
  • 5 ½” hose clamps
  • 1-3/8” hose clamp
  • ½“ rubber grommets if using metal studs
  • Room Air, Oxygen, and Suction wall plates
  • Air compressor
  • Portable suction machine
  • Paint and basic hand tools

2. Start by cutting the 2x4 studs to the following quantity and dimensions:

  • 4-72 inches long
  • 4-39 inches long
  • 4-pieces that is the height of the wall plates minus 2 inches

         Ex.  If the height of the wall plates are 8 inches, then make 6-6” long pieces

3. Take the cut pieces and assemble as shown (Fig. 1) using the 2 ½” coarse thread screws (wood studs) or the self-drilling screws (metal studs).  You may have to pre-drill pilot holes when using wood studs.

4. In the three voids made in the middle of the assembly (Fig. 1), install the wall plates per manufacturer instructions (you ay need to alter the order of steps to accommodate for the installation instructions).

5. Drill ½“ holes where indicated (Fig. 2).  This will be for the tubing that will pass through the headwall and feed air to the system.  Make sure to place rubber grommets into the holes if you are using metal studs.  This will prevent chafing of the tubing.

6. Install gas and suction wall plates according to your application into the voids made by the short vertical studs (these can be in any order to your preference)

7. Route the air hose through the holes drilled at the bottom of the unit and up to the gas plates. 

8. At the first gas plate, cut the air hose and install the barbed “T” fitting.  Install a short piece of air hose vertically to the wall plate and affix to the input tubing coming off the wall plate (see photo below).  Affix another short piece of air hose to the horizontal side of the barbed “T” piece and run that to the input tubing of the other gas wall plate.  Secure all fittings with ½” hose clamps. 

9. Utilizing the same procedure (minus the barbed “T” piece), Route the ¼” PVC tubing up to the suction Wall plate.  Affix this to the input tubing of the suction wall plate.  Secure with the 3/8” hose clamp.

10. Cover entire unit with the sheet of drywall and affix to frame using 2” fine thread drywall screws and trim where needed.  Make sure to trim out the openings for the gas and suction finish plates.

11. Paint entire unit to desired color.  Attach gasses and suction finish plates according to manufacturer’s instructions.

12. Install headwall unit to desired location. 

13. Attach distal end of air hose to compressor and distal end of suction tubing to portable suction machine.  These can be placed against the floorboards.

14. Unit is complete. 

To utilize the headwall:

  • Install the appropriate regulators to wall plates
  • Turn on compressor and portable suction machine
  • The headwall will operate just like a real headwall


  • On the compressor, regulate the PSI to around 50 PSI.  This is a standard setting for O2 and Room Air within hospitals.  Higher pressures may damage equipment.
  • Place compressor and portable suction machine away from the simulation area to reduce noise.  A closet or modified cabinet works well
  • Unit may also be placed on wheels if desired (additional framing necessary for stability)
  • Tubing running out of the frame may be ran through the walls if desired to hide it from view.
  • Mark the headwall in a desired fashion: “FOR SIMULATION USE ONLY“.   This is a safety measure.
  • If you are running a ventilator, make sure to set the FiO2 to 21% on the ventilator setting. 
  • Electrical outlets may be installed as well.  Consult a licensed electrician for installation
  • It is recommended to cut an access panel for future maintenance (see photos)
  • Additional items may be added as desired (call light system, light bar, diagnostic set, etc.)


Inside view through access panel:



Completed Headwall:


The Tips & Tricks section is located in our Resources section on The Resources section of the website will also give you access to important and helpful documentation and video tutorials for your simulators. To access the Resources section, click on "Education" and then "Resources".

We hope you enjoyed this tip! Questions or comments? Please feel free to post below! If you would like more information on utilizing your CAE Healthcare simulator's features, visit the Video Tutorials section.

- The CAE Healthcare Academy

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