The unique capability of the Australian Medical Assistance Team has been in high demand domestically and internationally for the past two years in response to Covid-19.
Back-to-back deployments and covid response saw training to boost the AUSMAT cohort put on hold.
In May, as covid restrictions began to ease nationally, the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre’s (NCCTRC) flagship training program returned, welcoming participants from across Australia to the Northern Territory.
The five-day AUSMAT Team Member course is made up of a combination of theory and interactive practical sessions and aims to give participants a realistic overview of what they may experience on an AUSMAT deployment. Sessions range from humanitarian principles in practice through to convoy driving, and everything in between.
Successful completion of the course is an essential component of preparation for an AUSMAT deployment.
NCCTRC Education Program Manager and AUSMAT Clinical Lead Karen Were says she is excited to see the training program up and running again after recent uncertainty around close-contact training, as well as back-to-back domestic and international deployments.
“The AUSMAT Team Member course is really the foundation for all that our organisation can achieve. We would not have the ability to deploy a team of incredibly experienced practitioners and logisticians without them having completed this course.
“Getting the AUSMAT Team Member course back in a face-to-face residential format is very exciting.
“As a result of covid-19 and the number of deployments we have responded to in the past two years, the course has had to evolve to encompass new expert fields, including infectious diseases, and environmental and public health professionals.”
Course participant and Alice Springs rural general practitioner Dr Sam Goodwin says receiving his AUSMAT accreditation was a career milestone.
“As a group we were being equipped with skills unlike anywhere else, from the theory to the practical and the team building,” he says.
“You can understand why AUSMAT shines in the field and carries such a prestigious reputation nationally and abroad.
“Throughout the course, we were learning from experienced NCCTRC faculty, and I felt reassured by the NCCTRC team as I stepped away with AUSMAT qualifications, that I am prepared and have the skills to join a team on deployment at some point in time.”
For Western Australian emergency clinical nurse and participant Jessica Werchon, the realism and level of detail within the course most amazed her.
“The most challenging element was the realisation that as AUSMAT members we are most likely going to be thrust into hostile environments, and you have to be thinking about not only the situation but also the team around you,” she says.
“I think the comraderie is what is most fantastic about AUSMAT – you have to rely on each other when we hit the ground responding to a disaster.
“I am excited to be a part of the AUSMAT cohort. I embrace the opportunity.”
With two more AUSMAT Team Member courses set to run soon, NCCTRC Director of Nursing Bronte Martin, believes the program is able to maintain its prestige thanks to the NCCTRC faculty and AUSMAT members who bring the course to life.
“It’s fantastic to see training recommence and continue to grow the AUSMAT skilled workforce, representing a unique opportunity to bring together highly skilled individuals from across the country to network, share collective experiences, reflect and explore new ones together throughout the course,” she says.
“It also gives national faculty, who are senior experienced AUSMAT leaders, a chance to share their personal AUSMAT lessons, tips and tricks to be prepared for a successful AUSMAT mission.”
The practitioners and logisticians who have now completed the course, and those who are due to attend in coming months, will continue to uphold AUSMAT’s distinguished reputation in the Indo-Pacific region on behalf of the Australian Government.