Certified airports in Australia are required to run an emergency exercise as part of Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) compliance regulations.The airport exercises provide emergency services and other agencies the opportunity to practice response and recovery, command, co-ordination and control functions during a simulated large community disaster.
In country South Australia (SA) and south west Victoria (Vic) these exercises have historically been limited by a lack of realism and have not involved local hospitals or transport of casualties to Emergency Departments (ED).
In 2014, the Greater Green Triangle University Department of Rural Health (GGT UDRH) was asked to provide simulated patients (SPs) to increase active engagement by responders and improve teamwork between health and emergency services.
Since then, the Department’s Simulation Program has worked closely with Mount Gambier Airport management group and participated in three rural air crash disaster exercises. The latest exercise was held in Port Augusta (SA) in May 2015 and involved the Australian Defence Force as well as emergency, medical and municipal services. Previous disaster exercises have been held in Mount Gambier (SA) and Portland (Vic) in 2014.
The exercises comprise of a simulated plane crash with some victims deceased at the scene and others suffering various injuries. Simulated patients follow a scripted scenario with special effects applied to reflect realistic injuries. The inclusion of simulated patients, recruited, trained and managed by the GGT UDRH simulation team, add to the realism of the exercises and offer a more life-like situation resulting in a higher level of professionalism and stronger cohesion between responding agencies.
Through this, GGT UDRH supported emergency responders to safely practice management of large scale disasters, potentially reducing casualties and saving lives.