Nelson Bay paramedics have taken part in a training day run by NSW Police – Port Stephens Marine Area Command, which aimed to improve the safety of paramedics when called upon to treat patients involved in water-based activities.

During summer Port Stephens is one of the busiest holiday destinations along the NSW coastline – and for good reason.

Tourists flock to the natural harbour for its array of water-based activities, including boating, swimming and snorkeling, to name a few.

But an increase in visitors can coincide with an increase in paramedics being called on to assist in the treatment of beachgoers and water enthusiasts who get themselves into strife.

To help improve the safety of paramedics who may be called on to treat these patients, Hunter New England Sector Inspector Lauren Lowrie organised for several Nelson Bay paramedics to take part in a joint training exercise led by NSW Police – Port Stephens Marine Area Command last month.

The training was restricted to inland waters and was conducted in the waters of Shoal Bay and Nelson Bay.

Lauren said the purpose of the exercise was to familiarise paramedics with police vessels and PFDs (personal floatation devices/life jackets); and conduct an assessment of paramedics’ ability in the water (400m swim in uniform; 10 min water tread; 30 sec breath hold under water).

It also featured scenarios highlighting the safe extrication of patients from water to vessel; vessel to vessel and vessel to wharf.

“All of the training considered the safety onboard NSW Police and maritime vessels to access patients,” Lauren said.

“The extent of this training was for use in inland waters, bays and lakes.

“A Dynamic Risk Assessment would always be conducted, should we need to assist with a patient in inland waters.

“If for example, the patient can get on a police vessel and safely back to shore, that’s option number one. But there may be a major trauma or a cardiac arrest on a boat, where police have to take the paramedics with them to the boat and they have to operate on the boat.”

Asked how the paramedics found the training day, Lauren said: “They absolutely loved it.”

“I got them all to do a course evaluation and the majority of them said it was the best day of their ambulance career.”

“It was a really good exercise for building relations with police as well, because they got to meet some familiar faces they may see on jobs.

“It was a beautiful day in Shoal Bay too – there were dolphins jumping around.”

Lauren was confident the training would be put to good use in improving paramedic safety.

“Even if one of these paramedics only does one job of boarding a boat, if this training can reduce the risk to them, then this training has done its job.”