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UJ partners RESCUE SA to transform Emergency Medical Care

On Monday, 08 June 2015 the University of Johannesburg (UJ) started a partnership with RESCUE South Africa (SA) which is expected to change the Emergency Medical Care (EMC) profession in SA. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between UJ and Rescue SA opens up formal channels for rescue workers to refine their skills through innovative simulation technology

RESCUE SA is responsible for rescue operations in SA as well as on an international basis.

The partnership between UJ and RESCUE SA is a collaboration with the aim of improving the skills of rescue workers which would be beneficial on both a national and an international level.

Through this initiative RESCUE SA will provide experienced and qualified employees to manage, coordinate and lecture on the respective programmes. Appropriate implementation training (on a “train the trainer” basis) will be provided by UJ, who will also assist with the sourcing and appointment of specialist lecturers, moderators, assessors, instructors and academics in the respective programmes.

Traditionally, emergency medical care training relied on real patients in actual clinical settings. While hands-on practical training is indispensable, a new and more efficient way of training for those working in disaster management has been developed. The simulation of medical scenarios allows learning; practice, and repeat procedures as often as necessary in order to ensure fine-tuned skills, and enhanced clinical outcomes.

“The formation and maintenance of strategic relationships is imperative when it comes to the upholding of the Mandela legacy to better humankind,” said Prof André Swart, Executive Dean at the UJ’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

The first African integrated emergency medical care simulation lab, which stimulates real-time medical emergency, was launched at the University in 2014. UJ’s simulation environment, where the entire patient journey from the scene, to the ambulance, to the Emergency Department, the ICU, to a general ward and even a transfer to another medical facility, will not only strengthen Urban Search and Rescue Capacity, but at the same time, rescue workers will gain confidence in their ability to perform clinical skills with actual patients.

“It is important that rescue workers not only possess a theoretical background in their profession but also have a profound practical background, provided by innovative measures such as simulation as a key component of teaching and assessment,” said Dr Craig Lambert, Head of Department at UJ’s Department of Emergency Medical Care.

In addition, with simulation, trainees can gain experience with various types of patients and cases they may not actually encounter during their rotations and shifts. This is particularly significant for training in disaster managing emergency situations.

Emergency services face challenging scenarios says Prof Swart. “When a patient needs emergency medical care near a city centre it is possible to get an ambulance quickly to him or her. However, away from urban environments, responding to an EMC call becomes far more difficult. This project will contribute to the hands-on training of rescue workers by providing clinically accurate simulations in imitated medical emergency settings.”

Dr Lambert, echoes Prof Swart’s sentiments: “The programme aims to ensure future sustainability. The Simulation Laboratory is part of our ambition to improve the quality of emergency medical care through meaningful solutions, innovations and partnerships. Recognising the shortage and availability of trained and skilled healthcare professionals is an increasing challenge, not only in South Africa, but across the entire continent. Therefore, we place a lot of emphasis on clinical education and training. UJ’s Simulation Laboratory is equipped with medical equipment and diagnostic devices intended to facilitate the exposure of emergency care students and academic staff to current medical technologies and adequately prepare them to operate under a pressurised and intense work environment.”

According to Prof Swart: “The partnership between RESCUE SA and UJ is a mutually beneficial opportunity, as we are contributing much needed resources to ensure that there is a highly trained and qualified emergency workforce for the public to rely on. Together, we are helping to transform emergency medical care by enhancing the individual performance of the next generation of healthcare professionals, which will ultimately benefit the patients in the form of good, reliable care. We look forward to a long and sustainable partnership dedicated to training a solid and reliable emergency medical care workforce.”

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