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Emergency medicine highlights for Monday August 13

Media release
Highlights for MONDAY AUGUST 13, Winter Symposium of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, Sebel Hotel, Cairns

9.00 – 10.00

A panel discussion on “Just what makes a disaster?” will include Dr Alex McGill, state coordinator for disaster exercises, Queensland Health; Dr Ian Norton, director of disaster preparedness and response at the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre based at Royal Darwin Hospital; and Michael Morrison, an expert in disaster management.

The morning program of the conference will also focus on disaster planning and disaster practice.
1.30 – 2.30

“The largest ever Australian hospital evacuation and the world’s largest and most extensive civilian aeromedical evacuation” – Cyclone Yasi under the spotlight

Cyclone Yasi – the Cairns experience. This topic will be highlighted in a panel discussion which will include experts from emergency medicine, ambulance, fire and rescue, and police, with Cairns emergency physician Dr Richard Mulcahy chairing the session.

Dr Paul Cullen, Deputy Executive Director of Medical Services at Cairns and Hinterland Health Service District, will tell the conference that, from the health perspective, this was the largest ever Australian hospital evacuation and the largest and most extensive civilian aeromedical evacuation so far as we know in the world.

Dr Cullen, an emergency physician, was Health Incident Controller for the Cairns District’s response to Cyclone Yasi.

“Staff and their families and friends were all potential victims in what was a complex multi-layered disaster,” commented Dr Cullen.

“The largest hospital in the District was at risk from the passage of the storm and was de-commissioned and re-commissioned within 48 hours.”

Dr Emmeline Finn, staff specialist at Cairns Base Hospital and Director of Training at Careflight Medical Services Queensland, was the clinical lead for the evacuation of all patients at the hospital, including haemodialysis outpatients.

She organised medical summaries, treatment regimens and triaged all patients before they left the hospital – and all were successfully and safely evacuated 20 hours before the cyclone crossed the coast.

Queensland Ambulance Service Far Northern Assistant Commissioner Rod Sheather will discuss issues identified during the lead up and post-cyclone event.

He will also cover what has been done as a result of the lessons learned.

Chief Superintendent William Brown, from the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service, was directly responsible for operations throughout Cyclone Yasi and supported the regional team in providing successful outcomes for the affected communities.

He also played a major operational role during Cyclone Larry in 2007 which devastated the Innisfail area.

Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS) has an all-hazard approach to emergency incidents and disasters, so with Cyclone Yasi, the service provided an operational response which included community safety activities.

Chief Superintendent Brown will discuss pre-Yasi preparations and predeployment of incident management specialists, special operations teams, and communications teams to support large-scale campaigns such as cyclones.
He will cover activities immediately following the passing of the cyclone, such as rapid damage assessment, rescues from building collapse, rescues from swiftwater and floodwater and from hazardous materials, as well as resource support for the community and other agencies.
QFRS provided recovery assistance, such as clean up, community support, wash downs, provision of a flexible habitat living environment, peer support, and counselling, all of which will be on the conference agenda.

© Scoop Media

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