Issue 8
Monday, 07 October 2019
Charles Darwin University
E-news
Adjunct Senior Lecturer Paul Bell is working with the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre to develop new aeromedical courses
Adjunct Senior Lecturer Paul Bell is working with the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre to develop new aeromedical courses

Postgraduate aeromedical courses on the way

CDU's College of Nursing and Midwifery is developing two new postgraduate courses in conjunction with the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre (NCCTRC).

The College recently appointed an Adjunct Senior Lecturer Paul Bell to oversee the development of the courses.

As a critical care nurse, his operational experience includes the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings and the 2009 Ashmore Reef disaster off the West Australian coast in which several asylum seekers were killed. He also worked in Afghanistan with the US Marines in the Intensive Care Unit.

Together with the NCCTRC, Mr Bell will create two unique programs at CDU: the Masters of Public Health (Aeromedical Retrieval) and Graduate Certificate of Aeromedical Retrieval Logistics.

“The idea is to develop and run the courses using NCCTRC expertise, which makes them unique,” Mr Bell said.

“We also have buy-in from the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (RFDS) and CareFlight, who need study pathways for their planning and logistics staff.”

The NCCTRC was set up by the Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH) after the first Bali bombing and is Australia’s peak body for disaster management, accredited by the World Health Organisation.

It has responded to many disasters including the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami and the 2010 Pakistan floods.

“In aerial retrieval there are many variables, such as access to the patient, distance to hospital, and severity of the injury or illness. In the Northern Territory, remoteness and the wet season create special circumstances,” Mr Bell said.

“Sometimes we are intubating people on the side of the road and other times we are helping someone with a laceration or broken ankle on to the plane for them to get a specialist medical review.

“I would say 70 to 80 per cent of the work is routine, 15 per cent involves seriously unwell people and less than five per cent is critical.”

Mr Bell said he anticipated that bringing students face-to-face with experts in the field would increase opportunities and pathways to work.

“When I did my Masters in Aeromedical Retrieval, one of my electives was wilderness medicine and the lecturer offered positions on his expeditions up the Amazon,” he said.

Mr Bell has a Graduate Diploma in Critical Care Nursing and Postgraduate Diploma in Midwifery.

A qualified nurse and midwife, Mr Bell’s career spans the Army Reserves, Australian Regular Army, RDH, RFDS and Northern Territory Aerial Medical Service.

The College of Nursing and Midwifery anticipates the courses will be ready to take enrolments in 2021. Students will study externally across Australia and potentially internationally and come to Darwin for intensive residentials.