Dr Kate conducts a training exercise for the lay surgical assistants on station.

Lay surgical exercise

Australian Antarctic stations have a remote area medical facility which is co-ordinated and run by the station doctor.

At Mawson station this is Dr Kate who leads a surgical/medical team of five, which includes herself and four lay surgical assistants (LSA). The lay surgical team consists of four expeditioners and includes a met observer, plumber, carpenter and electrician. The LSAs undertake a two week course at the Royal Hobart Hospital and ongoing monthly training and skills maintenance from Dr Kate.

Last week Dr Kate organised an exercise to cover the reception of a patient into the medical facility through to the start of surgery. This exercise enabled the LSAs to experience and improve their skills in the following areas.

  • reception of patient
  • monitoring of patient
  • theatre setup
  • anaesthetic setup
  • scrubbing
  • sterile fields in theatre
  • prepping and draping in theatre.

Our station leader John was the patient, with suspected appendicitis. The LSAs Charlie and Linc assisted with patient monitoring and anaesthetics (anaesthetic assistants), while Peter and Pete assisted with patient monitoring and surgical assistance (scrub assistants).

The exercise was very successful and improved the LSAs’ skills and confidence in the medical centre.