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World class disaster management training comes to Cairns

Emergo exercise
Gubers being used to train and test preparedness

7 May 2015

North Queensland health workers and emergency service personnel will be put through their paces this week as part of an internationally recognised disaster training course.

Participants will learn how to measfure and evaluate hospital and health service readiness for a mass casualty incident using the interactive Emergo Train System (ETS).

The course is being delivered for the first time in Queensland with the support of the New South Wales Health Emergency Management Unit and the North West Hospital and Health Service.

NSW Health Counter Disaster Unit Manager Louise Barker Allner said the training was no walk in the park.

"The ETS is an interactive tool used to simulate a mass casualty incident, the subsequent treatment requirements for patients as well as the impacts on a hospital," she said.

Ms Barker Allner said the training had been used for training and simulation in disaster medicine in several countries for the past two decades.

"The beauty of the ETS it is designed to adapt to any scenario in any setting," she said.

"Magnetic Symbols representing patients, staff and resources (Gubers) are used on white boards to train and test the preparedness for and response to major incidents and disasters.

"This is certainly no walk in the park, participants are deliberately put under some serious pressure."

Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service Disaster Coordinator Ben Ryan said the course was a key step in disaster preparedness activities.

"We might have said goodbye to another cyclone season but it is important we continue to build on our ability to respond to a mass casualty incident day in, day out," he said.

"This is the first time this training has been offered in Queensland and it has a distinctly North Queensland focus with health workers and emergency service personnel from Cairns, Mackay and Townsville completing the course."

Mr Ryan said the training was recognised on an international scale.

"I recently presented at the World Conference on Disaster Emergency Medicine in South Africa where global leaders including the World Health Organisation recommend this course," he said.

The training comes less than one year after health workers took part in a major simulated disaster response ahead of the G20 Finance Ministers Meeting in Cairns and follows on from the Health Service’s annual Day of Readiness in November.

Mr Ryan said the next step was to build on the opportunities this training provided for disaster response training in North Queensland.

“If we continue to offer opportunities like this it will allows us as a region to become a world leader in preparations and, ultimately, responses to mass casualty incidents,” he said.

Last updated: 11 May 2015