Dealing with trauma cases

Trauma is increasingly becoming a significant cause of death in the developing world. 

But it gets harder when it comes to low and middle-income countries like Samoa who have difficulties managing it.

Patients are transferred over great distances and more often than not arrive late after injury without any proper assessment and initial management.

This is often the result of too few health professionals with proper training to deal with trauma.

The National Health Services is moving to change this.

According to a recent audit of trauma cases at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital in 2014, there were 730 cases of trauma. Eleven percent were related to road traffic accidents, 43 percent related to falls and about half of the total cases were related to assault injuries, natural disaster and suicides.

This week, training was held at N.H.S to improve the capacity of local officials to deal with trauma.

Anaesthetist Dr. Lamour Hansell said the training was designed to help medical professionals including any frontline staff members to deal with the issue. This includes first respondents such as Police officers, F.E.S.A and other relevant officials.

“When people say trauma it can mean car accidents, real traffic accidents, assault cases and recently the bus accident at Tiavi that’s another classic example of the type of trauma that we face,” Dr. Hansell said.

“So the training is about empowering or building capacity of those frontline staff members to recognize life threatening conditions enabling them to manage in a limited resource environment.”

Dr. Hansell said the last time this sort of training was held was in 2009.

“We have seen the need to build our staff up in managing trauma effectively,” he said.

“Part of this training there are lectures in the building of the knowledge and then there are skills station so implementing those knowledge the practical side of reinforcing the knowledge that they have learned during the lectures and the skill station to implement what they learn in the lectures.

“[And] the third thing is that we have a disaster management part of the programme in managing disasters so as you know when demands exceed the supply especially in Samoa and in developing countries, we have very limited resources so knowing how to manage these incidents efficiently with whatever we have so we can improvise.”

Dr. Hansell highlighted the importance of a structured approach in managing trauma.

“If you have a structured approach there’s less room for error because trauma can be very dramatic emotionally for people,” he said.

“We are human beings and we can be put off when we are approachd and its not a time where we can think well but if we have a systematic way and that’s A, B,C, D, E then its very easy to remember and then we can work efficiently.

“So one is having a systematic way, number two is improving their knowledge to recognise life threatening problems and then number three is being able to manage them and teach them how to recognize it, how to manage it with the limited resources that we have.”

The training will become an annual programme. It is sponsored by St. Vincent’s Pacific Health Care in Australia.

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