Paramedic students gain extra experience in Vanuatu


Tuesday 21 Nov 2017

CSU paramedic students in VanuatuOn a recent study tour to Vanuatu, Charles Sturt University (CSU) paramedic students were fortunate to gain more experience than expected when they joined an interagency training exercise.

The CSU School of Biomedical Sciences students were in Vanuatu to undertake some placement shifts across a range of different clinical environments including the Emergency Department, maternity unit, ambulance and local health clinics as part of their University training.

Coincidentally, representatives from key NSW rescue agencies, the SES, RFS, Fire & Rescue and VRA were also in Vanuatu as part of an initiative supported by NSW Rotary. The month long interagency training exercise involved a variety of activities including urban search and rescue (USAR), swift water rescue and multi-casualty simulations designed to replicate a post-tsunami rescue and recovery operation.

CSU lecturer in paramedicine Ms Clare Sutton said that the involvement of the CSU paramedicine students with the interagency training had not been planned but that it provided an amazing opportunity for the students to put their skills to use and to further develop their knowledge and experience of how to respond in these specialised rescue situations.

"Exposure to these type of situations and providing them the opportunity to work as part of a multiagency team will be extremely beneficial for when they embark on their paramedic careers," Ms Sutton said.

"The Rotary NSW and NSW Government event had been a year in the planning so the participation of our students was very fortunate."

Ms Sutton explained the event was designed to support the local disaster and rescue agencies in working together in order to build local capacity and to improve preparedness for disaster response.

CSU paramedicine student Ms Sophie Dawson said the experience gained from training alongside the rescue and response agencies is not something she would usually get the chance to participate in but felt that it would be of great help in her future career.

"As a paramedic, ordinarily I would treat the people rescued but not see what the rescue teams went through or what they need us to do," Ms Dawson said. "Being able to work alongside the rescue teams meant I was able to understand what they need from us when working in these critical situations" 

"The overall experience in Vanuatu gave me the chance to work under conditions not found in Australia, and there were many times when I had to think on my feet and adapt my approach in response to the limited resources available. Ultimately, it broadened my knowledge and skills and increased my confidence."

Miss Sutton said "the students integrated well with the local community and learned so much from their experiences in both the clinical settings and through their participation in the training exercises with the local emergency response agencies. We were made to feel so welcome by everyone and appreciate the effort made to integrate us into the different environments. The students worked really hard, were always eager to get involved whenever the opportunity arose and they even made it to the front page of the Vanuatu Daily Post following one of the search and rescue activities!"


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Media contact: Chris Gillies, 0447 757 066

Media Note:
Contact CSU Media to arrange interviews with Ms Clare Sutton, lecturer in paramedicine in the CSU School of Biomedical Sciences.