Major disaster simulation a unique opportunity

Monday, 5 December 2016

Ballarat paramedicine disaster exercise

Student paramedics conducted a simulation of a gas explosion with such professionalism that the exercise resembled a genuine disaster zone.

Set the task of recreating a major disaster incident, 35 ACU students were required to implement major incident response plans and manage of a large-scale multi-casualty incident at the Ballarat Campus on Thursday 1 December.

More than 30 current ACU students and students from Federation University Australia played the role of those suffering casualties from an LP gas leak. Ballarat Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers provided smoke machines for a sense of realism and worked to manage hazards and free the trapped and injured.

Disasters are complex events that require an extraordinary and coordinated response from emergency services.  The management of the scene is dynamic and paramedics must apply principles of command, control and triage in a situation of limited resources.

The final-year Bachelor of Nursing/Bachelor of Paramedicine students were required to use all of the knowledge and skill acquired over the past four years to locate, triage (allocate a priority), extricate, treat and evacuate multiple casualties from the scene, with the aim of doing the greatest good for the greatest number.

Representatives from the CFA, Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, two Victorian Medical Assistance teams and ACU Faculty of Health Sciences staff were on hand to provide supervision and to lend authenticity to the exercise.

Associate Professor in Paramedicine Dr Helen Webb organised the event and said it was a valuable exercise for the students to experience real-life situation, giving them the opportunity to showcase their abilities and culminate their learnings over the last four years.

“Their performance at the simulation was exceptional. Two Ambulance Victoria observers, who are both designated Health Commanders, were extremely impressed with the scene organisation and the ability of the students to triage the injured, clear the scene and set up and run a casualty clearing station.”

Dr Webb said each of the ACU students involved would receive the Major Incident Medical Management and Support (MIMMS) commander qualification following the disaster simulation and successful completion of assessments:  MIMMS is an internationally recognised qualification that is a pre-requisite for State Medical Assistance Teams and the Australian Medical Assistance Team.

“The opportunity to gain a MIMMS qualification during their studies is a huge benefit for our students; this is a unique aspect of the Bachelor of Nursing/Bachelor of Paramedicine degree at ACU’s Ballarat Campus.”