At the end of August a team from the Academy went out to Jaffna, in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka to deliver the first ambulance instructor and ambulance crew training courses. A site visit took place earlier in the year which included a needs assessment for training their ambulance staff. The ambulance service has an NHS system in mind and is free to all within the Northern Province. The service started in January 2016 following a donation of 100 ambulances from Japan, however the ambulance staff were yet to be trained.
Week 1 saw us take 12 medical officers (Doctors) from across the province through an ambulance instructor course. We spent three days translating the emergency medicine they already know into ambulance practice, which included a lot of scenario and simulation work. The centre we had for training was excellent, lots of interesting places and spaces to run simulations and make the training as realistic as we could.
The doctors were incredibly receptive to the training and saw it as a great refresher for their own emergency care skills. They got stuck into every simulation and worked well as team to learn quite a lot of new skills in a short space of time. The final two days were spent covering teaching and learning strategies and discussing how they were going to deliver the Basic Ambulance Crew Course (BACC) to 24 ambulance staff in week 2. The second week also promised to be a challenge for the academy team as it would be delivered wholly in Tamil.
The instructor course was a long intensive week, but we had great fun delivering it and saw 12 doctors go from no prehospital experience to a group that could happily operate on ambulances and care for patients outside of their normal hospital setting.
Week 2 saw 24 ambulance staff, both drivers and attendants come from across the region to take part in the first Basic Ambulance Crew Course (BACC). They were a mixed group, some with many years’ experience including a lot of trauma experience during the civil war. Others were less experienced which meant we had a really good balance when running the simulations. That said, those with lots of experience had not really had any formal training and so all took great pride in learning new skills and were absolutely committed to getting it right. It was refreshing to have a group of students and instructors so invested in their education and it ensured an excellent two weeks on this project.
We took a lot of pictures (c5000!), and a selection of the best will be uploaded to Flickr very soon. Our next steps are to return to Jaffna in the next 6 months to quality assure a course delivered by their new ambulance instructors and continue discussions on how best to develop their service to best meet the needs of the population.
A fantastic project, and I look forward to working with colleagues in Sri Lanka for many years to come.