MIDWIVES joined critical care staff for the first time in working through a disaster management simulation with mass casualties.
The scenario was a train crash. The objective, to train Ballarat and Bendigo base hospitals’ staff in how to work with emergency services, particularly Ambulance Victoria, in assisted response out in the field.
This is the starting point for staff interesting in joining AusMAT (Australian Medical Assistance Teams) for potential deployment to international and humanitarian disasters like cyclones or tsunamis – and midwives are now recognised as key specialists required in such crises.
Those who completing the Major Incident Medical Management and Support course qualify for the Victorian Medical Assistance Team as respondents to large scale incidents across the state.
Key to the course, were tough triage priority calls.
Ballarat Health Services manager of emergency management Don Garlick said on-scene triage was confronting and a completely different context to the hospital emergency department.
“When there are mass casualties, you have to see very quickly and prioritise as soon as you can who needs care immediately,” Mr Garlick said.
“...There are ethical considerations too. If you’ve got a scenario like this (practice) one where there are 11 casualties on the ground and one air ambulance, you have to make the call who goes first or you could risk all 11. You’re not going to get everything 100 per cent right without enough resources or people.”
Mr Garlick said ambulance staff were the experts in the field – these trained doctors and nurses would add another element to assist in complex disasters.
Ballarat hosted this year’s training, the only MIMMS program for regional medical staff. Most MIMMS courses are conducted in central Melbourne.
BHS staff teamed with St John of God Ballarat and the city’s emergency services in December for a mass disaster training with an internal systems approach. This course focused on response assistance in other regions.
BHS clinical director of emergency Andrew Crellin said it was important for staff to upskill and refresh skills to ensure a strong and appropriate multi-disciplinary response to large scale incidents – when called on in the field and linking up to take in casualties in the hospital.
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