New Zealand company chosen to train Japanese medical students for disaster

Medical student Taro Simmori from Japan participates in a ProMed disaster training exercise on Smithfield beach.

Medical student Taro Simmori from Japan participates in a ProMed disaster training exercise on Smithfield beach.

A New Zealand company has been selected to train Japanese medical students in disaster medicine because of it's Kiwi 'can do' attitude.

ProMed, a multi disciplinary medical and safety training business in Timaru, designed a program for the first group of six students over the Christmas break which it hoped will lead to an ongoing contract.

Replicating realistic scenarios in 60 hours, over five days, the Japanese students from Nara Medical University in Kyoto were pushed to their limits in and around Timaru.

Managing director Don Gutsell said the objective of the training was focused around earthquakes and how to manage care outside of a hospital environment.

"We trained them to learn emergency care skills in an austere environment and improvise without medical equipment."

The two year and four year trainee doctors and nurses plus their Kiwi born Professor of Clinical English Francesco Bolstad arrived in New Zealand on Boxing Day.

Bolstad, who is in his second year of working at the university, said the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan exposed problems for first medical responders such as the lack of technology and low levels of communication with English speaking patients and other international responders.

"First world countries are used to having first world facilities. After an earthquake that all goes - and people are isolated."

He said the New Zealand environment and "can do" attitude made ProMed's course more appealing than other providers.

On the Timaru course the students were put in a simulated all night situation using 11 volunteer patients.

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"You can tell someone in an emergency they will be be tired and stressed but they can't really know till they are kept up for 24 hours and running around in the dark what mistakes they will make."

The students had to identify the patients outside and triage them immediately with no electricity or communication.

"There's no point wasting time on someone who you can't help or doesn't need treatment," Bolstad said.

To help them to think on their feet instructors then added rain as part of the scenario.

Usually the first responders would use the medical materials and gear carried in the helicopter or ambulance they arrived in but in a disaster they may not have access to them so had to replicate the products using whatever was available, he said.

ProMed also took the group to Smithfield Beach for water rescue simulations which involved dragging patients out of the water and treating them on the sand.

"They coped brilliantly," Gutsell said.

The trainees will complete their degrees in medicine after a total of five years' study.

The group was on a two week break from university and were spending five days in Christchurch before returning home on Sunday.

 - Stuff


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