The National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre (NCCTRC) is funding, through CDU’s Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) sponsored regional engagement program, four postgraduate places in the Graduate Certificate in Aeromedical Retrieval.
The scholarship is available for Pacific health professionals involved in aeromedical retrieval, and if successfully completed, these students will have the option of continuing through to Masters Aeromedical Retrieval.
“The NCCTRC Regional Engagement Program aims to strengthen the effectiveness of the local pre-hospital and hospital response during a disaster or crisis in the Asia Pacific region, increase partner countries’ national disaster health system preparedness and response capacity to better self-manage domestic disasters, and to ensure the Asia Pacific region benefits from Australia’s contribution to improved practice for global Emergency Medical Teams,” says Professor Dianne Stephens, Medical Director of NCCTRC.
Aeromedical retrieval is certainly a much-needed skill in the Pacific region and given COVID has reduced ability to travel, the offering of scholarships for the Graduate Certificate in Aeromedical Retrieval was assessed as a reasonable pivot for the program.
The scholarship offering generated significant interest, including another donor supporting two additional scholarships in Papua New Guinea.
The four scholarship students are key senior clinicians and with the knowledge and expertise from this course of study they have the capability to develop, innovate and improve aeromedical systems within their own country.
The successful NCCTRC scholarship students are:
- Miriama Taria Dregaso - Senior Nurse Emergency Department (Suva, Fiji)
- Dr Emeli Fuakilau - Anaesthesia and ICU Consultant (Labasa, Fiji)
- Dr Kartik Mudliar - Anaesthesia and ICU Consultant (Lautoka, Fiji)
- Dr Hilbert F. Tovrika - Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Consultant / International SOS Flight Doctor (Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea).
The scholarships will provide critical capacity building in both Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
The Graduate Certificate in Aeromedical Retrieval 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 was 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.
International and domestic retrieval will still need to occur.
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 enables 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 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.