In conjunction with local schools, actors and a medical ethicist, we held an 'Ethical dilemmas in anaesthesia' educational event to mark National Anaesthesia Day. The case study reflected a complex intensive care scenario, and students and their teachers were encouraged to undertake preliminary work on the issues before attending. The event was very powerful, provoking thoughtful debate both during and after the session. Students highlighted many issues, not least the importance of involving the public in discussion of ethical issues within healthcare. More opportunities for dialogue with the community should be sought.