ACU staff and students are trackside at one of the fastest races on the MotoGP calendar.
High speed motorbikes, pumping adrenaline – MotoGP is not for the faint hearted. While most people are happy to observe the excitement from the stands, Dr Joe Perry is in the thick of the action, as a 13-year veteran of the Phillip Island Circuit medical team.
Dr Perry, a medical senior on the team, can be found trackside, tending to the diverse range of injuries that can befall professional riders. And for the past few years, he’s had 40-50 ACU nursing and paramedicine students beside him.
Not only does volunteering on the team give students money-can’t-buy access to the inner sanctum of the event, it also provides an insight into where their degrees could take them.
“The main immediate benefit is for students to use their training in an unusual but dynamic environment,” said Dr Perry. “It also introduces them to new possibilities outside the traditional roles they might associate with nursing or paramedicine.
“On a more professional level, the students learn rapid assessment and diagnostic skills. They also learn valuable problem solving and observational skills. It’s also a great social event and networking opportunity.”
It’s not all fun and games however – the high-adrenaline sport comes with equally high risks and sometimes devastating consequences.
“If you watch motorcycle racing on TV you’ll see the nature of the accidents we deal with. Phillip Island regularly ranks as one of highest number of accidents per event for MotoGP and World Superbikes. So it’s never a dull event.”
It introduced students to one of the harder aspects of the job - losing a patient. As incredibly unfortunate as this is, it provides an opportunity to teach students about critical incidents.
“The unfortunate reality is people can die too,” said Dr Perry. “We’ve only had one fatality in the time I’ve been involved with the team. ACU students were the first responders and transported the rider to the medical centre. This was a very difficult time for the whole team.”
It’s this combination of unique and challenging conditions that make being on the team so memorable.
“You can meet all the stars, get up close to the bikes and cars at the event. You are actively involved in the event rather than a passive observer. I have been in medical cars at race speed on tracks all around the country including at Phillip Island, Bathurst, the Gold Coast, and Sydney. These memories will stay with me forever.”