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Student paramedics support Finke Desert Race as CDU launches paramedicine in Alice Springs

paramedicine finke race
CDU paramedicine students will be providing emergency medical support to riders and spectators with qualified paramedics as part of the Finke Desert Race in Alice Springs from June 9-13. Pictured: CDU Paramedicine Lecturer Paul Reeves, students Jessica Langmair and Calypso Dudgeon, and St John NT paramedic Lucy Chen. 

Student paramedics will be providing emergency medical support to riders and spectators under the supervision of qualified paramedics as part of the Finke Desert Race.

Charles Darwin University (CDU) is sending three second-year students to be a part of the medical support team at the outback desert race in Alice Springs on June 9-13.

As a part of the event, students will be placed on various sections of the track in the Red Centre and camp out with other medics in the bush along the track, which stretches 230km from Alice Springs to the town of Finke in the Northern Territory.  

It comes as CDU is set to launch its Bachelor of Paramedicine course in Alice Springs for students in Central Australia commencing July 2022. A new lecturer will be appointed full-time in Alice Springs, meaning students don’t have to travel to Darwin to access the program.

The well-known Australian desert race was rocked by a tragic crash last year that saw a man in his 60s killed after being struck by a vehicle that came off the track.

CDU Lecturer in Paramedicine Science Paul Reeves will take one of the students in a critical response car, who will be required to step in and offer medical assistance if the situation arises.

“This will be a hands-on and unique experience for our students to give them a real sense of the sheer remoteness of the Territory but also how to think quickly on your feet in a live situation as a paramedic,” Mr Reeves said.

“Our graduate paramedics do an incredible job saving lives and treating Territorians, so it's important that we deliver the very best training for them that ensures they are fully equipped to deal with the diverse range of conditions that the job demands.”

Mr Reeves said the students will be active members of the medical team, and their presence will directly assist the crews on the ground.

“Because of the remote and distance of the race, transport is difficult, night-time temperatures drop to freezing, its high-risk and the riders are traveling at high speeds. It’s a complex event to be involved in and unlike anything else to be experienced in a formal ambulance environment. “

Students will have the opportunity to gain real hands-on experience as a part of their placements in the course at events, and out on the road in regional and remote locations with trained paramedics.

CDU College of Health and Human Science Dean, Professor Dominic Upton, said practical skill development and placements are an essential component to improve students’ work preparedness.

“Paramedics need practical training and learning experience to be qualified and ready for the challenges that constantly come up in their job,” Professor Upton said.

“Our new courses delivered in Alice Springs and Darwin will ensure our students have many opportunities to get hands-on experience while studying and build up their clinical knowledge to support them in the workforce.”

The new courses have been developed with placement agreements with St John NT, where students gain real-world practice as a paramedic.

Explore CDU's Paramedicine courses at: www.cdu.edu.au/study/course/bachelor-paramedicine-wpar01

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