Doctors and nurses of the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department of Victoria Hospital last week ended a two day  Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) training course.

The training was facilitated by Ryder Trauma Center, University of Miami.

It was designed to help the participants deal with increasing levels of trauma due to incidents like  traffic accidents, stabbings and shootings.

Victoria Hospital, which sees the majority of trauma cases on island, has reported an increase in such cases.

Head of A&E, Doctor Lisa Charles, told the Communications Unit of the Ministry of Health that it is  vital that across the board, doctors and nurses have an approach to trauma which ensures they do not miss major injuries.

“The training in trauma life support is applicable to any trauma patient in any hospital. In fact the trauma course itself is designed for hospitals where immediate care by surgeons is not available on occasion. So it gives, for instance, the ER Physician the capabilities to manage and stabilize the patient over a period of time before we can get the patient to definitive care. So it’s applicable everywhere.,’ Charles explained.

‘Certainly at Victoria Hospital we have access to surgeons but in the middle of the night sometimes you have ER Physicians who are on their own and it’s really important that that they have the practice skills and the knowledge to know what to do in that first half hour in terms of stabilizing the trauma patient, recognizing life threatening injuries and intervening appropriately.’ she said.

Holders of the ATLS certification must do a refresher course every four years in order to retain their certificate.

The Ryder Treatment Centre will also assist the Victoria Hospital to initiate a trauma alert system, develop trauma treatment guidelines and a trauma data registry.

One of the facilitators, Dr. Daniel Pust, stated that trauma is the most common cause of death among children to adults aged forty.

However, Pust disclosed that the course focuses on more than just trauma care.

“But also important community outreach programmes in order to teach certain safety efforts like wearing a seat belt when you operate your motor vehicle, violence prevention programmes to reduce the amount of gunshot wound victims and stab wound victims. So community out reach programmes are a very important step. Also, child safety and child safety seats in motor vehicles are very important to prevent trauma. So a big aspect of this initiative is also prevention of injury and trauma,’ Pust stated.

Course Director for the (ATLS) programme in Miami, Dr. George Garcia, revealed that the course is sponsored by the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma.

‘It is currently taught is over 60 countries and we are extremely proud and grateful to add Saint Lucia to that list,’ Garcia noted.

There were 20 Participants in this first round of training conducted under the umbrella of the Saint Lucia Heart Lung and Blood Foundation.

Participants included: general surgeons and ER Physicians, nurses from ER and the operating theatre, Anesthesiologist and Junior ER Physicians.