EMS students raise money for good cause

The fundraising efforts of a group of Emergency Medical Sciences students will assist a non-profit organisation with its winter readiness programme.

The students raised R4 500 through their Steps for Hope project and recently presented a cheque to the TB/HIV Care Association.

Student Ulrike van Rooyen said the students raised the money as well as awareness about the TB/HIV Care association as part of a second-year assignment in primary health care.

She said the students chose the name Steps for Hope because they planned a fun run to raise the money.

“But due to unrest on campus it had to be cancelled. We sold tickets for the fun run and luckily everyone who had bought tickets said we could keep it,” said Van Rooyen.

“Some people also donated money. We also partnered with an organisation called Secret Sunrise, who gave a portion of the proceeds from an event, which was held at the Waterfront, to the cause.”

The TB/HIV Care Association prevents, finds, and treats HIV and TB in the general population as well as in key groups such as inmates, sex workers and people who inject drugs.

Site Manager Yolaan Andrews said the donation would assist in the association’s winter readiness programme “to keep our homeless service providers warm and fed”.

Academic’s PhD a first for SA

A CPUT academic has become the first person in South Africa to earn a PhD in Forensic Medicine and his work is helping to improve the forensic accountability with which emergency care providers respond to victims of gender-based violence.

A personal tragedy in 1995 inspired Dr Navindhra Naidoo, acting Head of the Emergency Medical Sciences Department, to pursue his field of research.

“My 19-year-old sister was murdered by an ex-boyfriend. I was still studying to be a paramedic at the time and realised that there was nothing in my curriculum that prepared me for that. It didn’t prepare us for screening, detecting or preventing these horrible things from happening.”

Naidoo said his key topic focused on gender-based violence, in particular domestic violence, and sought to understand emergency care workers’ “current and potential response” to gender-based violence.

“What we found is that the current responses are deficient. It’s not that the rescuers don’t want to help.  There’s a lot of ambivalence largely because there isn’t a sufficient referral system so the practitioners are not guided on where patients need to go and what kind of services might be available.”

Through a cohort design, he first looked at thousands of archived medical records and found that the detection rate of domestic violence or related kinds of gender-based violence, including cases of rape, was 5.1 patient contacts per 1000 female patients presenting to the Emergency Medical Services. A nine-fold increase in detection following the evidence-informed screening training and implementation translated to the detection of 47,9/1000 emergency care patients, with no adverse events. These rates are unprecedented for South African emergency care and support screening-policy implementation. The difference in domestic violence detection, quantifies the extent of the practice gap, with an alarming missed case detection of 42,8 per 1000 patients (females, 14 years plus).

In consultation with Stanford University, Naidoo developed a curriculum for the sensitisation of health workers and this was implemented in the Western Cape Emergency Medical Services.

The Health Professions Council of SA has since adopted the screening protocol.

“So about 70 000 practitioners are now ethically obligated by the HSPCA to routinely ask the question about the presence of violence in someone’s life and then to do a risk/safety assessment and provide the necessary support they might need,” says Naidoo. His work has also served, at the HPCSA, to position gender based violence as a social determinant of health.

“What we are doing is using emergency workers as sentinels. No other person in the health service actually walks into someone’s bedroom, where the abuse occurs, to treat them in an emergency. The screening helps us to ask victims about the presence of violence and screen for risk, for example, whether there’s the presence of a firearm. When there is risk they can then advise the victim appropriately and enhance both public safety and practitioner responsivity.”

Rescue week a success

Delegates from a number of national educational institutions that offer rescue training for emergency medical service personnel recently gathered at CPUT for the annual inter institutional rescue week.

This annual meet was started by the Department of Emergency Medical Sciences (EMS) at CPUT in 2012 with the aim of getting other institutions that offer rescue training to engage on standardising and benchmarking rescue as a specialist field within emergency medical care.

The first day of the four-day event consisted of an academic workshop where delegates discussed the future academic landscape of rescue qualification.

Marianne Bester and Frederika de Graaff from CPUT’s Fundani department provided vital information on the academic design of new qualifications and the RPL policy.

The delegates used the remaining days of rescue week to engage in cave, mountain and industrial types of rescue simulated scenarios at variety of locations around Cape Town.

According to EMS lecturers Justice Bosman and Ryan Matthews the event was regarded as a success as the objectives around the current needs and future direction within rescue were met as was the objective to introduce new teaching methodologies, showcase new equipment and techniques from different institutions offering rescue in non- or formal training.

“It also provides other institutions with  access to training sites, scenarios and possible contexts, which may not be always available due to their own geographical constraints, where they may develop or obtain some opportunity to test and practice their skills and systems,” says Bosman.

Matthews said next year’s event would be held at the Durban University of Technology.



State-of-the-art simulation centre boosts EMS training

Emergency Medical Services training at CPUT has received a major boost with the opening of a new immersive simulation centre, which can emulate real emergency scenarios to train students to treat patients in life-threatening emergencies.

The state-of-the art immersive clinical simulation centre can replicate emergency scenarios, such as road accidents, and will be used for learning as well as assessment purposes.

EMS lecturer John Meyer says that before students can do their work integrated learning the university has to ensure that they are competent to perform procedures on real people.

“With the simulation based education we provide a hands-on experience, where real life situations are simulated for students to develop their skills. They can practice over and over again without causing any harm.”

A range of different scenarios can be pre-set for students, including for the delivery of a baby.

In this case the EMS Department has a birthing mannequin which can automatically deliver a baby, including having contractions and making sounds.

“At the back-end, the simulation technician will set up the mannequin to a pre-set scenario and the lecturer can watch the student treat the “patient” from the control room and from there also speak to the student. The technology allows the lecturer’s voice to be transmitted via the mannequin as the voice of the patient.

“We also have an observation room to which we can live stream to the rest of the students and where a facilitator can facilitate discussion. Everything is recorded on the server and this allows the students to review the video footage later.”

Meyer said an important part of the training was the debriefing process.

“Students reflect afterwards on how they performed during the scenario and will be given feedback on what went well or what went wrong and how they could better achieve the outcomes and objectives of the scenario. Students are enjoying the immersive training experience and we’ll be able to send out students who are safe and competent.”