First aid course adapted for the times

Gunner Jakob Ingeman and Private Fraser Burns, of Joint Task Group 629.9, wear gloves and carry a tyre to simulate a casualty while participating in the Army First Aid Course at HMAS Harman. Photo: Corporal Sagi Biderman

First aid course adapted for the times

Army School of Health has created a tailored Army First Aid Course that can be run in the COVID-19 environment.

2 Division was determined to ensure soldiers continued their training despite the challenges the pandemic presented.

Captain Adin McGarvie, Army First Aid course manager and SO3 Health for Joint Task Group 629.9, was pleased it could go ahead.

“Not many organisations been given permission from Director Army Health and CO Army School of Health to conduct training due COVID-19,” Captain McGarvie said.

“We’re working with Territorian Government direction on appropriate distances, which includes how many trainees can be in a classroom, maintaining 1 person per 4sqm.

“We also have plenty of gloves, masks and sterilisations for mannequins and training materials to ensure safety.”

One of the biggest challenges in altering the course was maintaining the practical side, while adhering to COVID-19 regulations.

“We conducted most practical sessions outside to increase the amount of space we could use,” Captain McGarvie said.

“We also used a buddy system so two people paired up and maintained that pairing for the entire course. This was done because some practicals required hands-on scenarios.

“The buddy system limited how many people the individual had contact with.”

As part of the Army First Aid Course, trainees had the opportunity to undertake the Tactical Combat Casualty Care Course.

“Normally for these scenarios participants would drag or conduct a fireman’s carry on the casualty, however, this wasn’t possible,” Captain McGarvie said.

“For patient movement simulation, we had trainees dragging tyres across the ovals. For other practical activities, we had to narrate some of the scenarios. Unfortunately that makes them less life-like, but safer.”

Private Robert Murphy, a gunner at 1/19 Regiment NSW in Orange, was one of the trainees attending the modified course.

“Everyone was wearing gloves and there was a lot of disinfecting of anything we touched,” Private Murphy said.

“We were constantly wiping down tables, equipment and the plastic weapons to make sure they were thoroughly disinfected. We also had little physical contact – even in the classroom, we sat 1.5m apart. Everything was sanitised and safe.”

This was Private Murphy’s first opportunity to complete an Army First Aid Course since Kapooka, and his first time learning tactical combat casualty care. 

“It’s great that we are still able to upskill for our role despite the current restrictions,” Private Murphy said.

“These are skills I will use outside of work too. I might not use the combat side in my regular job, but it’s good to have the knowledge on how to handle injuries like breaks or sprains, snake bites, or allergic reactions.”

All training was conducted in accordance with the Director Army Health directive and Australian Resuscitation Council guidelines for Basic Life Support and Advanced Life Support.

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