Future doctors deploy emergency response skills

North-West medical students from the University of Tasmania put their disaster-response skills into action during a large-scale training event over the weekend.

Emergency Skills is coordinated annually by the Rural Clinical School (RCS).

The program immerses future doctors undertaking their fifth year of study in realistic scenarios that challenge them to assess, diagnose and treat casualties.

On Friday, 15 March, students travelled to the remote wilderness to participate in a series of medical exercises at Julius River Reserve.

These were followed by a simulated mass-casualty disaster event in the centre of Smithton the following morning (Saturday, 16 March).

Director of the RCS Dr Lizzi Shires said the course had been designed to get medical students thinking critically about their role as future rural doctors.

“The Emergency Skills course challenges students to respond to medical emergencies in a remote environment where there are limited resources available,” Dr Shires said.

“In the wilderness exercises, students will work through five scenarios where patients will be showing signs of trauma and requiring immediate care. Some will be deteriorating and need immediate treatment to prevent the progression.

“Students will need to examine their environment, assess each patient’s symptoms, confidently make a diagnosis and perform the most appropriate treatment.

“During the mass-casualty event, students will work alongside health professionals to treat and triage casualties after the emergency services have assessed the scene and retrieved patients.

“The course teaches students about the importance of community partnerships in order to achieve the best patient outcomes in rural areas.”

Course coordinator Dr Nick Towle said the learning opportunity helped prepare students to be calm and effective practitioners in the real-life setting.

“During the course, students practise some time-critical skills,” Dr Towle said.

“The scenarios create a bit of pressure which helps prepare them for the challenging and real scenarios they may face as rural doctors.

“In previous years, the mass-casualty events have included a simulated boat explosion and a plane crash.

“The course is a big undertaking involving emergency services, health professionals and the local community. We are immensely grateful for this ongoing support – it really enhances the experience for our students and teaches them the importance of teamwork and the skills of our emergency services.”

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