QUT paramedic students and Australian Army medics have worked together in mock injury scenarios to help prepare for civilian and military health emergencies – and get a better understanding of each other’s jobs.
They showed off their skills at an outdoor demonstration at the Kelvin Grove campus, as part of a one-day civilian and military health symposium hosted by QUT.
The symposium was part of the QUT & military: future health directions (QUTMFHD) project, which was established by QUT paramedic science lecturer and former army nurse Kerri-Ann Welch.
Since it was launched two years ago, around 200 students have volunteered to take part in army-run clinical scenarios at the Gallipoli Barracks at Enoggera and the Greenbank Military Area.
The elaborate scenarios involve role playing injured soldiers – including lots of mock “moulage” (make-up) injuries – to provide army medics with field experiences as real as possible.
“Military and civilian health professionals work together in times of crisis, such as the 2011 Brisbane floods,” Ms Welch said.
“We want our students to understand and experience these collaborative efforts before they have to put them into action in a real crisis.”
Ms Welch served five years with the army, mostly in the 2nd General Health Battalion (2GHB) – a deployable hospital unit based at Enoggera that provides field medical support.
“It’s essentially our national mobile army hospital for land-based forces,” Ms Welch said.
“It has everything from operating theatres and resuscitation bays through to x-rays, wards and a pharmacy.
“During the clinical scenarios in Brisbane our students were role players and mostly played injured soldiers – with very realistic looking wounds – who needed to be treated by the army medics.”
“It gives our paramedic students a first-hand look at how army medics treat patients and cope with emergency situations. Our students get to see that, no matter the healthcare setting, we’re all trying to achieve the same healthcare delivery and best outcomes.
“For the army, the benefit is that our students can give back more than a regular role player – they are able to provide detailed, clinically-orientated feedback to hone the army’s procedures.”
The collaboration has also exposed both sides to future career options.
“We know many of our paramedic science students will go on to have multiple jobs after their graduation and the military is one of their options,” Ms Welch said.
“We also invite army medics to QUT to be guest tutors, which allows them to recognise their potential in a non-military setting, and see the transferability and importance of their knowledge and experience.”
Ms Welch knows first-hand what it’s like to transition out of the army.
She spent her last two years with the army as a clinical educator, responsible for education and training programs for medics, nursing officers and medical officers.
She joined QUT six years ago as a clinical educator with a palliative care project and is now a lecturer with QUT’s School of Clinical Sciences and the first year coordinator of the Bachelor of Paramedic Science program.
Her QUTMFHD project has been funded by a $25,000 QUT Engagement and Innovation Grant.
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