John Paul College students undertake a tour of the hospital to learn about the consequences risk taking behaviour.
John Paul College students undertake a tour of the hospital to learn about the consequences risk taking behaviour. Trevor Veale

Effects of trauma hits home for Coffs youth

COFFS Coast youth participated in the Prevent Alcohol and Risk-Related Trauma in Youth (P.A.R.T.Y) regional program today at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus to gain insights into the significant consequence of risk-taking behaviour.

The program enabled students from John Paul College and Tormina High School to follow in journey of a trauma patient where they watched a series of trauma scenarios which exposed them to the medical processes of treating trauma patients.

Visits to the intensive care and rehabilitation units as well as the surgical ward and the morgue were also part today's program to help young people understand the significant impacts of severe injury or disability.

Run by the Royal North Shore Hospital Trauma Service in Sydney with the support of staff at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus, the program intends to provide students aged between 15-25 a first-hand insight into the consequences of risk taking behaviours with the aim of reducing the over representation of young adults in injury and trauma statistics.

Director of Trauma at the Coffs Health Campus, Dr. Lorna McLeod said P.A.R.T.Y is effective for kids providing them with a very real insight into the journey of a trauma patient.

"You just look at their faces and they clearly get quiet immersed and they actually believe this is for real...It has a bigger impact then someone just showing them some pictures,

"We just want them to have their eyes open to appreciate that there is a far bigger outcome should they get into these situations and think twice before they do something they might regret," she said.

John Paul College year 10 student, Sarah Fear, found the simulation was "pretty scary" and never realised what went on behind the scenes

"I've never pictured that's how it goes, I've never seen what went on behind the doors," she said.

Her year 10 classmate, Jasper Na, said the program was important to provide students a very real representation of the consequences of risk taking behaviour rather than seeing images in a class room presentation.

"I think some people instead of just seeing it need to see a visual representation," he said.

Simulation Coordinator at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus, Natasha Alexander, said incidents like those re-enacted today are seen on average at the Coffs Health Campus three to four times a week.

The statistic highlights for trauma injury nurse, Maura Desomnd, of Royal North Shore hospital, the importance of practicing the program being in regional areas, where many young people are being seen to be involved in traumatic incidents.

"We're a massive state so I feel the need is a lot greater to get out there to the regional areas, especially to regional areas such as Coffs Harbour because we receive a lot of traumas in Coffs Harbour amongst young people and we're seeing a lot of these young people transferred to the major hospitals down in Sydney and Newcastle,

"To see a young person coming into our emergency department and leaving with a severe disability is absolutely the most devastating, heart-breaking thing as a health professional and if we can try to avoid that at least with one person then it is absolutely worth it," she said.

Chair of the Mid North Coast Local Health District Board, Warren Grimshaw AM, said the program is a brilliant opportunity for our young people.

"Those opportunities have got to be taken with open arms and the young people participate and get a better understanding of the decisions that are likely to be made and the reasons behind those decsions," he said.

Royal North Shore Hospital is the first hospital to implement the program in NSW. The Royal Alfred Hospital in Melbourne and The Royal Adelaide Hospital also run the program to their metro-based students.

First established Canada in 1986, the P.A.R.T.Y program has been successfully implemented at more than 100 sites around the world.

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