Gold Coast-based paramedics Steffan Patron, Garry Harris and Steve Strom have united with ambulance staff in Mongolia as part of an ongoing Griffith University-led project to enhance emergency medical services (EMS) and disaster capacity.

The team of Griffith health experts joined five paramedics from Australia, Papua New Guinea, the United States and Canada at the EMS training headquarters in Ulaan Baatar, delivering prehospital care training for 70 doctors, nurses and firefighters.

Gold Coast paramedics are helping to develop the skills of Mongolia’s medical frontline.

Central to their most recent visit was the demonstration and delivery of high-performance CPR, paramedics volunteering two weeks of their time, skills and experience to engage local practitioners.

Project leader Dr Hamish McLean, from the Centre for Social and Cultural Research, said the reaction from the Mongolian medics was overwhelming.

“They wanted to learn as much as possible and really appreciated the skills of the Griffith University team, made up of five different paramedic services, who all shared similar life-saving techniques,” he said.

Funded by the World Health Organisation, Griffith’s Roadside to Nationwide Mongolian EMS and Disasters project has been operating since 2017, seeking to address the country’s limited access to resources, funding and training in emergency medicine.

Previous visits to the Mongolian capital revealed parallels between ambulance callouts in Australia, such as scenes of fatal heart attacks, traumatic roadside incidents and distressed babies.

The noticeable difference, however, was the experience of first responders and the equipment available to them.

Mongolian paramedics training in high performance CPR.

Clinical Director Duncan McConnell, who holds more than 27 years of paramedic experience, said the train-the-trainer project would build the skills of doctors across Mongolia.

“Despite the challenges, our Mongolian colleagues are very dedicated to learning and improving their EMS capacity so more lives can be saved,” he said.

This year, the visiting paramedic team were faced with a unique challenge of their own: retrieving and treating patients for an outdoor exercise in minus 30 degrees.

Freezing conditions and frostbite took on a new meaning for the Gold Coast crew who had arrived from plus 30 degrees.

The EMS project is part of Griffith’s commitment to social justice, supported by evidence-based research that recognises the country’s context and available means.

“Our enduring goal is to implement effective strategies to improve EMS treatment and response times within Mongolia’s existing resources,” Dr McLean said.

“Simply introducing systems from Australia or Canada is not feasible due to high costs and resource requirements.”

“Our aim is to ensure Mongolia has a sustainable EMS within its own resources and context.”

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