UCC Emergency Care Society gets hands-on with life-saving skills

Natalie Krakoski and Clara Steele share how UCC's Emergency Care Society has come to play an important role in training UCC’s future healthcare professionals outside of the lecture theatre

26 Feb 2020
Natalie Krakoski, Alexa Comeau, Clara Steele, Aoife McMahon and Maha Irfan [Photo: Provision]

Natalie Krakoski remembers all too well the day she helped to save a woman’s life.

She was cycling home when she noticed an elderly woman who had fallen into the bushes.

“I realised that she was having a heart attack and needed immediate assistance,” recalls Natalie.

“Because of my training, I was able to recognise what was going on and was able to respond in a manner that altered the outcome of her situation.”

The training that UCC medical student Natalie is referring to, are the life-saving skills she has learned through being a member and co-chair of UCC’s Emergency Care Society (ECS).

The society was originally formed in 2016 by a group of medical students with an interest in emergency medicine, and ever since, ECS has come to play an important role in training UCC’s future healthcare professionals, outside of the lecture theatre.

 “These training workshops help consolidate our medical training and respond in an effective manner within the community, if the situation were to present itself” – Natalie Krakoski 

Founded on the basis that all those training to become qualified healthcare professionals will be faced with future emergencies, ECS organises practical training workshops that help UCC students to develop the necessary skills to deal with them. Even if students do not ultimately choose a career in emergency medicine, the experiences acquired through the society provide an excellent source of fundamental skills that can be applied to any other medical path.

The training is focused on teaching students to manage medical situations both in a pre-hospital setting within the community, and also when equipped with a team in a hospital setting.

The workshops and training events are very practical and academic-based, and are chosen to complement the curriculum at the School of Medicine. They cover a wide variety of areas; for instance, as part of their ‘Halloween Horror Nights’ workshop, members were talked through how to deal with scenarios such as cardiac arrest response, diabetic ketoacidosis, and burns and shock.

Wilderness medicine was the subject of a weekend-long training event organised by Wilderness Medicine Ireland last September, whereby society members trained in how to respond to medical issues in situations that arise outside, and out of reach of the city.

The society also arranged for the highly-regarded British group, Rapid Response Adventure Medicine, to deliver their first-ever training in Ireland. ECS members were trained in managing urban traumas such as road traffic accidents, nightlife emergencies, and remote wilderness medical emergencies.

“A lot of us have found that – in the position of medical student – when something happens, everyone looks to you. And while we’re in training, the technical training that we get in classes may not give us the experience that’s needed to react in a helpful manner, on the spot,” explains Natalie.

“So, these training workshops help consolidate our medical training and respond in an effective manner within the community, if the situation were to present itself.”

And so this has been the case, with several ECS members having found themselves in emergencies, where they had to put their training into action.

“A colleague was able to recognise a close relative of his, entering septic shock. Because of their training within the emergency simulation setting, they were able to recognise this and get this person to the hospital for immediate care,” says Natalie.

Natalie’s co-chair, medical student Clara Steele, adds that ECS also exposes students to specialty areas of medicine at an early stage in their training.

“Emergency medicine is a huge umbrella term for lots of different sub-specialties,” explains Clara. “It’s introducing students to those specialties early on and getting them performing practical skills in a safe and supportive environment.”

“We work closely with medical professionals from a variety of hospitals to bring the best training experiences to the students," she adds.

Natalie and Clara are keen to emphasise the support and help that ECS receives from the Cork medical community as well as UCC’s School of Medicine. This support, they say, enables ECS to provide the best training possible – something that’s clear from their back-to-back victories at the SimWars intervarsity competition over the past two years.

A highlight of the year for ECS, SimWars is a competition that brings together all six medical schools in Ireland for a simulation-based training event. Using medical equipment, mannequins and role players, and getting support from medical specialists from all over Cork, the students use this event as an opportunity to get comfortable with emergency situations.

While two victories in a row is a wonderful testament to the society’s capabilities, the significance of ECS’ success goes far beyond that.

“The benefit of this is, once we start clinical placements – and beyond that, we have had an extra bit of training and would feel more comfortable in these situations,” says Clara.

While ECS hopes to make it three-in-a-row at Sim Wars 2020, we can comfortably say that the future of emergency medicine in Cork is in safe hands.

Follow this link for more information about UCC Societies.

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