Portland District Health’s revamped emergency department has recorded a successful response to a major bus accident on Thursday night.
The hospital accepted all patients from the crash, including those with serious chest and spinal injuries.
Associate Professor Tim Baker, from the Centre for Rural Emergency Medicine (CREM), said the emergency department had successfully coped with the situation.
“On the night of the bus crash the system worked the way it was planned,” Associate Professor Baker said.
He said the department had undergone a transformation over the past 12 months, with recruitment of experienced doctors, installation of new equipment and emergency nurses gaining experience in Melbourne trauma centres.
“The terrible and unfortunate events of the Portland bus crash gave the hospital its first chance to fully demonstrate these changes,” Associate Professor Baker said.
“It succeeded because of the work done over the past few months. Months of preparation have gone into last night running smoothly,” he added.
Associate Professor Baker said the successful response showed the benefits of having rural doctors and a responsive emergency department at Portland.
The hospital has remodelled its emergency department as part of its commitment to improving services to the Portland region.
Two hospital doctors, two specialist emergency physicians, a general practitioner and many nurses trained specifically in trauma care were involved in the response on Thursday night.
Patients were stabilized and given pain relief. The most seriously injured patients had their injuries investigated by CT scan and were transferred to The Alfred and South West Healthcare in Warrnambool, where appropriate surgical units were expecting them. Stable patients were treated locally and admitted to Portland District Health or discharged.
At 2pm Friday … patients remain in PDH with minor injuries. Their conditions are stable. Nine passengers and the driver were taken to the hospital after the bus crash which claimed three lives at 6.40pm on Thursday
CREM is funded by Alcoa, Deakin University, Portland Hospital and Warrnambool hospital has also contributed. Funding from CREM provides a specialist emergency physician, Associate Professor Baker, to assist in the continuing improvement of emergency medicine in Portland.
He said two specialist emergency physicians work in the emergency department each week. “They have focused on staff training, working with local general practitioners, improving protocols, stocking of appropriate equipment and streamlining interaction with pathology and radiological services. In particular, they have worked on improving the way patients are transported from Portland hospital to city hospitals.”
Associate Professor Baker said recent media reports had highlighted the difficulties in getting country patients to the city for surgery.
“CREM has a voice on regional committees overseeing emergency transport of patients, and staff have been trained in the best way to have the system work for their patients.”