New training course helping medics deal with remote disasters

by L&D07 Dec 2016
A new remote disaster training course in Tasmania is giving urban doctors the chance to expand their skills in a complex, unpredictable outdoor environment.
 
The course, run by the University of Tasmania in partnership with the Australian Antarctic Division, is attracting doctors based in city hospital wards who may never otherwise work outside a clinical environment.
 
The eight-day course, which offers training in practicing medicine in a remote or natural disaster scenario, was held recently on Maria Island, off Tasmania's east coast. Another course will take place in winter in Bronte, in the state's central highlands.
 
Training organiser Graham Denyer said that the courses have attracted students with very little or no outdoors first-aid experience as well as more experienced medical professionals, and that the learning curve had been steep for some.

"Often it's the doctors who struggle the most when we start, because they're used to working in a very controlled environment, where someone rolls through the door on a stretcher," said Dwyer.
"When they're faced with someone tangled upside down, or fallen into a crevasse, or hanging out of a tree, it's difficult for them to know where to start."

Safety instructor Nick Hancock, speaking to the ABC, said that training outdoors offered unique, extreme and complicated situations, demanding speed of thought from the participants, and that they be prepared for anything.

Another instructor, Tasmanian paramedic David Brown, said that Tasmania offered the perfect learning environment for medical workers dealing with remote natural disasters.

"Trying to retrain with outdoor awareness is something you can't do in the classroom," said Brown.
"The Tassie environment is the critical thing. It's the wind and the rain, the snow and the temperature in general."