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Students and emergency services deal with mock road accident

IT'S the stuff of nightmares, but for professionals dealing with the aftermath of a major road accident, it’s an all-too-regular part of everyday life.

Knowing what to do after such an event can be the difference between life and death.

That’s why the University of South Wales (USW) held a blue light exercise at its Glyntaff Campus so that dozens of its student nurses could work together with other emergency service personnel to manage the aftermath of a mock-up road accident.

Also involving probationary officers from Gwent Police, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service personnel, specialist paramedics from the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Hazardous Area Response Team (HART), and a team from St John Cymru-Wales, the event was designed to give those on the front line an understanding of what could happen.   

“The event is based on a real-life scenario which can involve a lot of casualties,” said organiser Caroline Whittaker, who is the academic manager in USW’s Faculty of Life Sciences and Education, and senior lecturer in occupational health.

“We set up the scene of a road accident, in which the driver of a stolen car, travelling along an A road at 60mph in wet conditions, loses control and the car collides with a minibus.

“The passenger side of the car hits near the front of the minibus before both vehicles come to a stop.”

As well as responding to the accident, those involved had to manage the nearby fictional Dewi Sant Hospital – based in USW’s clinical simulation suite – which was already filled with ‘patients’ undergoing treatment.

To add to the stress, the ‘hospital’ was due to close its services in the following week and move to a new facility 10 miles away. As a result, there was a reduction in its capacity and capability.

“The whole exercise was designed to give everyone involved an understanding of the challenges and stresses involved in dealing with a major incident,” Mrs Whittaker said.

“USW has a commitment to external collaboration and to providing immersive learning opportunities, and the simulation exercise has provided the opportunity to develop skills in triage, assessment and extended clinical practice.”

Detective Sergeant in charge of Student and Crime Training in the Learning and Development Department of Gwent Police, Gareth Jenkins, explains: “Exercises like these are essential to providing the best learning opportunities for our officers. Simultaneously, offering the chance and early experience to work with other agencies and to understand the operational practices from their point of view.

“USW has offered Gwent Police the unique opportunity to forge these networks and professional relationships with students from the very beginning of their careers.

“Stepping out of the classroom to exercises like this provides our officers with a greater insight into these sort of emergency situations, which will no doubt be an eventuality for most of their careers.

“Along without our Area Support Team, which has today taken part in the coordination of this exercise, we have brought along 18 student officers.

“I’d like to thank the team at USW for the meticulous organising of such a well-planned exercise.”