OR360 Escape Room Fosters Teamwork and Fun

"The virus has escaped," said a voice over the loudspeaker. "You have all been exposed."

Trapped in a laboratory, four employees begin to search drawers, medical equipment and vials. Large screens around the room display an ominous countdown: The team has less than 30 minutes to find a cure to save themselves—and the world.

Employees (from left) Josh Page, Shaden Daas, Brittany Bancroft and Ray Robles race against the clock to solve a puzzle in the OR360 Escape Room.

This was the scene that unfolded during the first attempt to solve the new OR360 Escape Room, an interactive puzzle-solving experience located in the Cedars-Sinai OR360 facility on San Vicente Boulevard.

OR360, which serves as an innovative research space and simulation laboratory, converted two of its rooms to create the new experience: one for the escape room and one for the control room, in which participant progress is monitored on two television screens. The project is part of the OR360 research team's ongoing investigation into factors impacting team performance in healthcare, such as team composition, communication, leadership and emotional intelligence.

"I thought it was great!" said Brittany Bancroft, a program development coordinator and the only member of her team who had previously attempted one of the popular adventure games. "It was so well thought out."

The escape room, now open to teams of three to eight participants, is an immersive laboratory environment. The special effects and props—many of which were donated by the Cedars-Sinai Medical Library—transport participants into another world once inside. To solve it and "escape," teams must piece together clues and solve all the puzzles found within the room.

But its creators say there is more to the OR360 Escape Room than pure escapism.

"We’ve realized through our research and our day-to-day experience how important teamwork and relationships are," said Bruce Gewertz, MD, chair of the Department of Surgery and executive director of OR360. "We’re always looking for innovative ways to teach that lesson to people, in ways that are not offensive or tedious—and this is a lot of fun."

Research interns and OR360 Escape Room creators (from left) Audrey Nguyen, Siddharth Karthikeyan, Anusha Koka and Vinisha Prajapati.