Academics deliver disaster training in Mongolia

Duncan McDonnell with some of the life-saving equipment donated for the trip to Mongolia.
Duncan McConnell with some of the life-saving equipment donated for the trip to Mongolia.

A child hit by a car lies dying on the roadside in remote Mongolia.

The local doctor has no equipment or training in trauma to save her life.

This tragic scene is about to change in Selenge Province, bordering the Russian Federation, thanks to two Griffith University academics.

Dr Hamish McLean from theSchool of Humanities, Languages and Social Science and paramedic senior lecturer Duncan McConnell from the School of Medicineare in Mongolia packed with donated with life-saving trauma kits to deliver multi-casualty and disaster training to more than 60 doctors and nurses from across the province and in the capital Ulaanbaatar.

The training will focus on locations with high numbers of vehicle accidents.

The project — Integrated Disaster Response: Roadside to Nationwide — takes a multidisciplinary approach to improving emergency and disaster capacity in the country.

“The Mongolian Ministry of Health has identified the need to enhance its very basic EMS services nationally given the number of preventable road fatalities and increasing industrial and tourism traffic,” Dr McLean said.

This visit is the second phase of the project. In January last year Dr McLean presented a two-day national workshop on disaster communication and health leadership.

“The next phase involves roadside EMS training and our project clinical director Duncan McConnell is training more than 60 doctors and nurses who attend ambulance calls with very limited equipment.”

Mr McConnell, who is studying ambulance delivery models for his PhD, said training the ambulance staff, who do not speak English was a challenge.

“A lot of time has been devoted to translating training materials ranging from describing injuries to triage priorities,” he said.

The project is based in Professor Cordia Chu’s Centre for Environment and Population Health. This phase has also received the support of the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research and is partnered by the British Columbia Ambulance Service, Canada.

“British Columbia has weather conditions and remote communities similar to Mongolia, so it was a good fit for this project,” Mr McConnell said.

Industry partners

Much of the life-saving trauma equipment has been donated by industry partners. They include MidMed, Ferno Australia, SAM Medical, Alpha First Aid Supplies, Laerdal Australia, USL Medical and Ambu.

While in Mongolia, Dr McLean and Mr McConnell will meet with senior government officials on the future needs of emergency and disaster management. This will focus on inter-agency co-operation and mutual aid between the country’s 21 provinces.

“This is all about our research on best practice having a direct impact where we can adapt best practice to the needs identified by the Mongolian government and provincial authorities,” Dr McLean said.