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March 2011

Students talk to patient jpeg
Recovering trauma patient Nicholas Williams speaks to Braemar College students from his bed in the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Don’t crash the party, students told

The Royal Melbourne Hospital has launched an inhouse education program for secondary school students aimed at reducing risk-related trauma in young people.

Under the Prevent Alcohol and Risk-Related Trauma in Youth (P.A.R.T.Y.) program, 30 students from Braemar College at Woodend spent a day in the hospital’s emergency department, intensive care unit, trauma wards and rehabilitation units.

The visit gave them an insight into the treatment and care required by patients admitted to the hospital with acute injuries following traumatic events such as motor vehicle accidents and assaults.

The day-long session was a mix of hands-on simulation exercises and presentations by nurses, doctors, paramedics and patients in parts of the hospital where trauma patients are treated and cared for after admission.

The students found themselves transfixed at the bedside of recovering patient Nicholas Williams, a road accident victim who was seriously injured when his motor scooter and a car collided at a city intersection.

Describing his ordeal – that inflicted severe head, limb and internal injuries – Mr Williams urged his young audience to be vigilant as road users, reminding them that even a momentary lapse of concentration could have horrific and possibly fatal consequences.

The education program is structured to:

             Educate youth to recognise risks;

             Increase awareness and responsibility for the choices made by young people;

             Increase young people’s knowledge of the consequences of injury on the quality of life for the individual and the community;

             Empower youth to make informed, smart choices;

             Promote injury prevention initiatives;

             Contribute to a reduction in incidents of risk-related trauma involving young people.

Director of the hospital’s Trauma Service Associate Professor Rodney Judson said in the past five years, the Royal Melbourne Hospital had admitted more than 5,000 patients aged between 15 and 25.

Thirty percent of these had sustained life-threatening injuries with long-term consequences.

The most common causes of these injuries were road trauma (48 per cent), assaults (28 per cent) and falls (14 per cent).

‘Overall, 35 percent of trauma cases where serious and life-threatening injuries are sustained involve drugs or alcohol or a combination of both,’ said Associate Professor Judson.

‘We hope, through this program, young people will have a greater awareness of the consequences of risk-taking behaviour and that this will translate into fewer traumatic injuries and admissions in future.’

The P.A.R.T.Y. program started in Canada in 1990.

It now operates at more than 100 sites worldwide.

The program was set up at the Royal Melbourne Hospital with funding from the Department of Health.

Students from a further 18 secondary schools and colleges in Victoria have enrolled for the program at the Royal Melbourne Hospital this year.

Students completed questionnaires immediately before and after their participation in the program – and will do so again in three months.

This data will be collated to evaluate what impact the program has on their risk-taking knowledge and behaviours.