Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


For Bachelor of Paramedicine: PARA107 Paramedic Theory: Trauma Emergencies

For Bachelor of Nursing/Bachelor of Paramedicine: PARA104 Foundations of Paramedic Practice

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Paramedics assist people with a range of medical conditions that may present as urgent and emergency situations.This unit will introduce students to the essential pathophysiology and theoretical aspects of paramedic management related to medical presentations of disease and emergencies in the following areas: cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, renal and infectious processes. Students learn to use theory to drive their clinical practice and to understand how practice is guided by a continual process of assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation and evaluation - skills critical for the paramedic to deliver best practice.

The aim of this unit is to assist students to achieve knowledge of the epidemiology, pathophysiology, clinical implications, assessment and management of medical conditions and emergencies.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe the epidemiology, pathophysiology, implications, assessment and management of the medical presentations related to cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, renal and infectious processes (GA2, GA8) 

LO2 - Relate medical presentations associated with cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, renal and infectious processes to the concept of time criticality (GA4, GA6, GA8) 

LO3 - Differentiate between provisional diagnoses of a range of presentations on the basis of understandings of pathophysiology with reference to available clinical data (GA4, GA6, GA8) 

LO4 - Apply critical appraisal principles to the management strategies currently used by paramedics relating to the medical conditions considered (GA4, GA6, GA8) 

Graduate attributes

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

Paramedicine Board of Australia Professional Capabilities for Registered Paramedics

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

 3.3, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4


3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 5.3, 5.4, 5.6


3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 5.4


1.3, 3.2, 4.1



Topics will include: 


  • Review of anatomy and physiology of the cardiovascular system 
  • Pathophysiology of selected cardiovascular system conditions / emergencies 
  • Cardiovascular emergencies 
  • Acute Coronary Syndrome 
  • Abdominal aortic and thoracic aneurysm  
  • Cardiogenic shock 
  • Aortic dissection 
  • Perfusion Status Assessment 
  • Principles of arrhythmias and anti-arrhythmic agents 
  • Principles of cardio-electrophysiology 
  • Principles of permanent pacemakers and automatic implantable cardioversion devices 
  • Electrocardiograph rhythm interpretation – 3 lead  
  • Pre-hospital management 
  • Associated pharmacology  
  • Coagulation modifying agents 
  • Thrombolytic agents 
  • Nitrates 
  • Analgesia 
  • Antiemetics 
  • Cardiovascular agents 
  • Haematology and coagulopathies 
  • Disseminated Intravascular Coagulopathy (DIC) 
  • Anaemia 
  • Leukaemia 
  • Principles and conditions of haemostasis 
  • Haemophilia 
  • Sickle cell disease 
  • Continuum of care of the person with cardiovascular conditions (acute and chronic) 


  • Review of anatomy and physiology of the respiratory system 
  • Pathophysiology of selected airway conditions / emergencies 
  • Assessment and management of selected airway conditions / emergencies
  • Obstruction due to foreign body 
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease  
  • Laryngeal spasm 
  • Asthma 
  • Bronchitis 
  • Pneumonia 
  • Allergies/Anaphylaxis 
  • Acute Pulmonary Oedema 
  • Inhalation injuries 
  • Aspiration 
  • Toxic inhalation 
  • Environmental 
  • Hyperventilation syndrome 
  • Pulmonary Embolism 
  • Respiratory Distress Syndromes 
  • Haemoptysis  
  • Spontaneous Pneumothorax 
  • Chest aetiology  
  • Acute respiratory infections of the paediatric patient  
  • Oxygen therapy and ventilation 


  • Review of anatomy and physiology of the gastroenterology system 
  • Pathophysiology of selected hollow and solid organ conditions / emergencies 
  • Assessment and management of selected hollow and solid organ conditions / emergencies 
  • Inflammatory conditions 
  • Gastroenteritis, Gastritis, Colitis, Diverticular disease, Chrohn’s Disease 
  • Appendicitis, Pancreatitis, Cholecystitis, Cholelithiasis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), food intolerances  
  • Bowel obstruction 
  • Mechanical 
  • Functional  
  • Hepatic conditions 
  • Hepatitis 
  • Oesophageal varices 
  • Ascites 
  • Peptic ulcer disease 
  • Haemorrhoids 
  • Evisceration (from trauma) 
  • Short bowel syndrome 
  • Hyperemesis 
  • Dehydration 
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding 
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm 
  • Principles underpinning abdominal assessment 
  • Associated pharmacology  


  • Review of anatomy and physiology of the renal system 
  • Pathophysiology of selected renal conditions / emergencies 
  • Assessment and management of selected renal conditions / emergencies 
  • Conditions associated with the kidneys  
  • Renal colic 
  • Pyelonephritis, hydronephrosis 
  • Renal calculus 
  • Renal failure – acute and chronic 
  • Conditions associated with the bladder  
  • Urinary retention 
  • Urinary tract infection (including ascending and descending) 
  • Principles underpinning assessment 
  • Associated pharmacology  


  • Meningitis/Meningococcal Septicaemia 
  • Respiratory infections 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Modes of delivery in this unit include lectures, laboratories, simulations, online activities and self-directed study. Consistent with adult learning principles, the teaching and learning strategies used within these modes will provide students with foundational knowledge and skills relevant to professional paramedic practice. These strategies will also support students in meeting the aim, learning outcomes and graduate attributes of the unit and the broader course learning outcomes. Learning and teaching strategies will reflect respect for the individual as an independent learner. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively with peers.  

In the second year of the programme, this paramedic theory unit includes substantial face-to-face teaching hours during which clinical case scenarios are used to assist students in linking theory with practice. Online learner-centred resource sessions are used to support students’  acquisition of basic content, while tutorials provide the opportunity to consider content more interactively.  Web-based learning and critical thinking activities are offered to support self-study outside of tutorials and to further the development of students’ conceptual understanding. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment items consistent with University assessment requirements and policy will be used to ensure students achieve the Unit Learning Outcomes and attain the Graduate Attributes.

The quiz assesses understanding of issues specific to medical presentations and provides an early opportunity for students to gain feedback on their understanding of the material. The development of a professional portfolio will allow students to showcase their ability to differentiate between provisional diagnoses of a range of presentations on the basis of understandings of pathophysiology with reference to available clinical data. The exam evaluates key knowledge including the biological science knowledge inherent in this unit and its application within a professional context which will direct future practice as a paramedic.

These assessments are required to build student knowledge and skills which, by the conclusion of this programme, will enable the student to graduate as a safe and effective practitioner. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes


Enables students to showcase their learning experiences in a professional manner ensuring that students demonstrate understanding of major learning objectives in the course outline. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA4, GA6, GA8


Enables students to demonstrate their knowledge of key components.


LO1, LO3, LO4 

GA2, GA4, GA6, GA8


Enables students to demonstrate understanding of key pathophysiological and other concepts underpinning medical diseases and emergencies.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA2, GA4, GA6, GA8

Representative texts and references

Ambulance Victoria (2016). Ambulance Victoria clinical practice guidelines for Ambulance and MICA Paramedics. Doncaster: Ambulance Victoria. 

Bryant, B., & Knights, K. (2015). Pharmacology for health professionals (4th ed). Chatswood, N.S.W.: Elsevier Australia. 

Copstead, L., & Banasik, J. (Eds). (2013). Pathophysiology (5th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Saunders. 

Marieb, E.N., & Hoehn, K. (2016). Human anatomy and physiology (10th Global ed.). Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.  

Martini, F., Nath, J. & Bartholomew, E.  (2015). Fundamentals of anatomy & physiology (10th Global ed.), Boston: Pearson   

McCance, K., & Huether. S, (2014). Pathophysiology: The biologic basis for disease in adults and children (7th ed.). St Louis: Mosby. 

Queensland Ambulance Service (2017). Clinical practice guidelines (CPG) and clinical practice procedures (CPP). Brisbane: Queensland Ambulance Service. 

Queensland Ambulance Service (2017). Drug therapy protocols (DTP). Brisbane: Queensland Ambulance Service. 

Sanders, M. J. (2012). Mosby’s paramedic textbook (4th ed.). St Louis, MO.: Mosby. 

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