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Aeromedical retrieval


A passion for aeromedical retrieval, and more recently lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, has been the catalyst for the College of Nursing and Midwifery’s new Masters of Aeromedical Retrieval, set to commence in 2021.

The course was the brainchild of Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Paul Bell, who was working for the Australian Defence Force as the Brigade Welfare Officer, when he floated the idea to the Dean of the College of Nursing and Midwifery, and Professor Len Notaris of the National Critical Care Trauma Response Centre.

“The intent is for clinical practitioners in the aeromedical retrieval field to be the student base,” says Adj SL Bell.

“This includes Flight Nurses, Retrieval Medical Officers, Intensive Care Paramedics and Logistic Staff.”

The course, aimed at both the domestic and international market, especially the Asia-Pacific region, will be extremely important in the post COVID-19 world, he says.

“Aeromedical retrieval will still need to occur as the need has not abated due to the pandemic,” says Adj SL Bell.

“International and domestic retrieval will still need to occur.”

Meeting with Aeromedical Retrieval Team in the College of Nursing and Midwifery

Though the course is both international and national, it is expected that the Northern Territory’s expanse will be used as an example of rural and remote retrievals.

“This course will enable both clinicians and logisticians to plan and deliver care in line with fiscal and resource responsibility, best practice aeromedical retrieval and creative and critical thinking,” says Adj SL Bell.

“COVID-19 will put a strain on aeromedical retrieval resources as the virus is highly contagious, and thus may limit the number of patients on flights.

“It also has an impact on cleaning equipment and aircraft post retrieval. All this adds up to extensions in time and resources.”

It is expected that most of the personnel that enrol in either the Master or Graduate Certificate of Aeromedical Retrieval will already be already working in the speciality.

“This course enables them to focus on the development of critical thinking and understanding the intricacies of the underlying principles that underpin efficient and effective aeromedical retrieval.”

Download flyer (PDF, 466.34 KB)

Recently, government funding was announced to allow aeromedical services to evaluate initial and suspected coronavirus cases, deliver fly-in GP respiratory clinics in the case of a broader outbreak, and supply and replenish personal protective equipment for frontline medical staff.

“The significance of NT Government funding is that they appreciate that COVID-19 will need to be at the forefront of logisticians and clinician minds when planning retrievals,” says Adj SL Bell.

“Patients with respiratory symptoms similar to COVID-19 will need to be treated with a high degree of suspicion for the retrieval.

“Therefore, I feel the Government may have recognised the need for an increase in both material and personnel resources.”

The key stakeholders in the project, along with Charles Darwin University, are the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre, CareFlight _ Darwin, The Royal Flying Doctor Service - South Australia and Central Operations.

The courses will commence in January 2021.