CQUni Knows Tactical Medicine
My name is Aldon Delport and I’m a lecturer in Tactical Medicine at CQUniversity.
I’m a critical care and technical rescue paramedic by training. I’ve worked in eight different countries including remote environments, jungles, deserts, cities and war zones, providing intensive care-level medical support in high-risk, high-consequence situations. I taught paramedicine at a university in South Africa for a number of years before starting to teach tactical medicine in Australia to various organisations.
It was then that I realised no course of this kind was available to non-military or non-law enforcement personnel. I presented the idea to the CQUniversity School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences and the Dean was keen for us to move ahead with it. I worked closely with the head of postgraduate studies to develop the Graduate Certificate in Tactical Medicine course and get it approved. CQUniversity is the first university in Australia, and in fact the world, to offer a tertiary tactical medicine course that civilians can participate in. It will be a deep dive into the principles of tactical medicine and high threat response.
The standard approach of trauma management that we’ve always had in the civilian sector isn’t adequate to deal with patients in high-consequence event environments like terrorist attacks, mass shootings, bombings or hostage situations, where a threat is ever-present. Here in Australia, paramedics just don’t get enough high-level trauma experience because it’s such a safe place, but just because it’s safe doesn’t mean those high-intensity trauma situations don’t happen. The Bourke Street vehicle attack and the Lindt Café siege is the perfect example of this. So, for any first responder who wants to increase their knowledge of trauma, this course is for them. And they won’t get one like it anywhere else in Australia.
Tactical medicine prepares nurses, paramedics, army medics, police special operations medics, search and rescue crews, and firefighters with medical training to work as a cohesive unit in low-frequency, high-consequence events, and gives them a common language to speak with when treating trauma patients in that setting. All these groups should be interested in gaining a far better understanding of trauma medicine. If a threat arises or comes up again, these groups need to have a way to deal with it and work safely despite the circumstances. They need to be able to move their patients, function optimally and manage their physiological stress response in those environments while maintaining a high level of situational awareness.
It’s a very different type of approach to doing pre-hospital trauma. They need to prioritise treatments that are going to save patients’ lives within the flow of a tactical event. It is unlikely that we won’t ever see another high consequence event in Australia again such as a mass casualty terrorist attack. When it happens, it is imperative that first responders have the skills to deal with those attacks, and have the knowledge to keep themselves, their patients, partners and colleagues safe. Those are the skills that they are going to get from this course.
But there are other applications as well; Australia is extremely rural and there’s definitely an application for search and rescue teams. So, a part of the course will focus on prolonged field care where you’re exposed to a situation where evacuation is deferred, and you’re stuck in a dangerous situation with a patient for a prolonged period of time with minimal resources. We’ll teach students how to manage that patient in that sort of field environment where they have minimal equipment, medication and fluids. It also goes into the particular pharmacology of medications used in treating trauma pathologies.
I think it’s important for paramedics and nurses to have at least one year of postgraduate experience for them to have the skills they need to start treating their patients at a very high level. This course will set you up for success if you have a love of adventure outside of standard first-response work. It has very broad application potential. So, if you are seeking new knowledge in your field, you want to work in a special operations team in Australia, or if you’d like the ability to travel and apply your skills elsewhere in the world as a remote paramedic, this is the course for you.