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Disaster Nursing Conference

  • : Brisbane City QLD 4000



All countries experience disasters of some kind and they are usually unpredictable. Australia, regularly experiences natural events such as floods, fires and cyclones. In an increasingly unstable world, attacks against the state, such as terrorist attacks, are also a sad reality. In any such event, you – as a nurse – are likely to be called upon to step up and act – clinically and in the community. While your hospital or workplace is likely to have an emergency management plan, have you thought about your own response? Are you prepared to rise to the challenge? What’s YOUR disaster management plan? Topics include:

  • Preserving evidence when a disaster occurs
  • Advanced trauma assessment and triage
  • Stories from actual disasters
  • Tips for staying calm under pressure and much, much more…


Schedule Day One



Welcome and Introduction


Adele O’Hehir

The Evidence Doesn’t Lie – Preserving Evidence

Clinical staff can support forensic investigations when a disaster or mass casualty event occurs by ensuring that physical evidence is handled and handed over correctly. This session will include the following topics:

  • Preserving evidence whilst providing medical care
  • Knowing how to gather physical evidence
  • Learning how to maintain the “chain of evidence” as a clinical staff member
  • Possible ways clinical staff may accidentally mishandle evidence, and how to avoid them


Professor George Braitberg

Thunderstorm Asthma – Managing Large-Scale Emergencies

Victoria, October 2017, nine people tragically died as a result of or due to complications associated with “thunderstorm asthma”. Emergency services were overwhelmed with desperate calls from people who were suffering from acute respiratory problems. While we have long known that weather conditions can play havoc with the symptoms that people with asthma and allergies experience, why did it cause nine people to lose their lives? This session reveals the immunological response that triggered a cascade of such serious consequences. It includes:

  • How did this disaster occur?
  • How can it be prevented?
  • What advice should we be giving to people with asthma and other allergies?
  • What were the lessons learned and how can we prevent further harm?
  • How was this large-scale emergency managed?



Nyree Parker

Feel The Heat: Is Your Hospital Ready for Extreme Weather?

From heatwaves to superstorms, Australia is no stranger to severe weather events. Whilst we do our best to prepare for these events, our facilities and infrastructure may not be as ready as we are. This session will discuss the following:

  • How to prepare for various severe weather events
  • Possible issues which may arise despite preparedness
  • How city/facility design may affect risks


Alexandra Gillian

Back to Basics: Essential Components of the Primary Survey

Initial assessment and management of the person who has suffered a trauma is critical to their outcome and recovery. This session will discuss the rapid systematic primary survey that is based on established frameworks. Case scenarios will be used to demonstrate actions within different contexts. It includes:

  • Cervical spine stabilisation
  • Type of trauma, danger, and response
  • A - Airway
  • B - Breathing and oxygenation
  • C - Circulation and bleeding
  • D - Disability and delegating tasks



Alexandra Gillian

Debriefing after Critical Incidents

Debriefing after critical incidents is vital if you are personally involved or witness a stressful or traumatic event whilst at work. The key to moving on and not letting an event continue to affect you is being able to openly talk about the event without fear of judgement. This session will discuss what such a debrief entails and when it is effective. As well, it will provide a valuable opportunity to safely come together as a group to debrief. It includes an opportunity to constructively debrief as a group and discusses:

  • What does a constructive debrief look like?
  • How can debriefing prevent critical incidents from causing undue stress at work and at home?
  • When should you know that you may need some additional support other than debriefing?



Geoff Ahern

When Trauma Lingers…

Many of us experience trauma. It is not always typical traumatic events that can threaten our health and safety. Some of us may go on to further experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress or have a diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What if a first responder is experiencing this? Providing comprehensive mental health care that is considerate of a person’s holistic needs is essential if we are to prevent re-traumatisation. This session considers practical approaches to supporting a person with PTSD and includes the following topics:

  • What is trauma and how does it affect a person?
  • What are the comorbidities that are commonly associated with PTSD?
  • How can we communicate with a highly traumatised person?
  • Where can you refer a first responder with PTSD for help?


Day Two



Alexandra Gillian

This is Who we Are – The Untold Stories of Paramedics

Paramedics are on the front line, dealing with life, death, and trauma on a daily basis. They are instrumental in preventing morbidity and mortality in disaster victims and are the unsung heroes seen by many as “just doing their job”. This session is about the lived experiences of a paramedic and will discuss the following topics:

  • What are some of the things that non-paramedics may not know about being a paramedic?
  • What are the challenges faced daily by paramedics?
  • What was the worst part of being a paramedic? And what was the best?


Alexandra Gillian

Crowd Control – Managing Crowd Crush Injuries

Melbourne is home to big festivals and sporting events and, because of the large crowds they attract, there is always the risk of a crowd crush incident, which could lead to serious injuries or even death. This session will talk about the following topics:

  • What is the difference between a crush injury and crush syndrome?
  • What is traumatic asphyxia and why do healthcare workers need to be aware of it?
  • What do healthcare workers need to monitor when caring for patients who have been in crowd crush injuries? (reperfusion injuries, etc.)



Jane Mateer

Communicable Disease Aspects of Disaster Nursing

Natural and man-made disasters may be very destructive, leading to mass casualties, both for injuries and fatalities. For the survivors, disasters also bring long-term effects, including infectious disease outbreaks, which may lead to secondary deaths. From respiratory illnesses to bacterial infections, these outbreaks may occur in the days or months following a disaster. This session will shed light on:

  • Precautions first responders and volunteers need to take, including immunisations
  • Possible communicable disease risks and how to manage these risks
  • Lessons that can be learnt from previous incidents
  • Challenges in managing the aspect of communicable disease in a disaster zone



When Disasters Strike … Surgical Trauma Care Surges

Long after patients have been triaged and the scene is being cleared, perioperative teams are often still managing the consequences of a catastrophe. They may be taking a patient into the operating room for the 10th time. In addition to the surges that are seen following a disaster, surgical care of people affected by disasters often continues long after the disaster is cleared away. This session offers a perioperative perspective for preparing for a disaster and reveals:

  • What are the complex surgical trauma cases seen during disasters?
  • Do anaesthetic conditions change?
  • What are the perioperative priorities of care and management for major injuries?
  • What staffing considerations are required?
  • How can the capacity of perioperative nurses be developed over time?
  • Are simulations to prepare for the surgical emergencies that stem from a disaster a good way to prepare perioperative nurses for a surgical trauma care surge?



Jane Mateer

Tourniquet Usage in a Civilian Prehospital Setting

The tourniquet, first used around the Roman times, has made a comeback after falling out of use due to the risk of unnecessary amputations. A recent study in Texas showed a sixfold reduction in fatalities in patients with vascular injuries to their extremities when tourniquets are used to control bleeding. This session will focus on the importance of tourniquet usage and includes the following topics:

  • When and how do we use a tourniquet?
  • How long can we keep a tourniquet on a limb?
  • What are the complications that may arise from the application of a tourniquet?
  • Is there a way to apply a tourniquet to a junctional injury?



Jo Gibbs

Emotional Contagion in Disaster Response

In the event of a disaster, one person’s emotions may ripple through a whole group. This phenomenon, known as “emotional contagion”, can be easily seen in the public’s response to disasters in social media and beyond. In this session, we will discuss the concept of emotional contagion. It includes the following topics:

  • Why is emotional contagion an important concept?
  • In what way can emotional contagion be detrimental to disaster response efforts?
  • How can we keep ourselves and our patients calm in a disaster?


The Goal Need for Program

No place on earth is immune to disasters. They may be relatively small and localised, for instance an attack against the state or affect entire regions such as a tsunami. They are highly disruptive and usually cause chaos, suffering and death. At such times nurses are likely to be affected and will be required to step up to perform different roles to those of their daily work. Therefore, understanding the bigger picture of disasters, the essential practicalities and nursing skills required, will increase preparedness, disaster responsiveness and personal resilience.

Purpose of Program

The purpose of this conference is to provide nurses with information and knowledge about disasters and their management to improve their professional preparedness.

Your learning outcomes:

Using knowledge of the ‘big picture’ of disaster management participate effectively in caring for those affected

Confidently prioritise your nursing care for maximum effect in a disaster situation

Follow through on the psychological implications of a disaster for all your patients and self

Participate in planning and post-incident debriefing to ensure nursing considerations are implemented


Alexandra Gillian

Alexandra Gillian

Alexandra Gillian has been a Registered Nurse for 29 years and an emergency ambulance paramedic for 13 years, with intensive ... Read More

George Braitberg

George Braitberg

George Braitberg is Executive Director of Strategy, Quality, and Improvement at Melbourne Health and Professor of Emergency Medicine at the ... Read More

Geoffrey Ahern

Geoffrey Ahern

Geoffrey Ahern is a senior mental health clinician and educator who splits his time between working with people in a ... Read More

Jane Mateer

Jane Mateer

Jane Mateer is a Registered Nurse with more than 25 years of experience in pre-hospital, metropolitan, and military settings. Her ...Read More

Jo Gibbs

Jo Gibbs

Jo Gibbs has a lifelong career in healthcare. She is a hospital and university trained registered nurse with a background ... Read More

Adele O'Hehir

Adele O'Hehir

Adele O'Hehir is a forensic nurse coordinator at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM) in Melbourne, where she oversees ...Read More

Nyree Parker

Nyree Parker

Nyree is the Emergency Management and Business Continuity Planning Consultant for the Peninsula Health Community Health Service. ... Read More

To Be Determined

To Be Determined

Disaster Nursing Conference
Speciality Classification
Interest Areas / Topics Covered
Provider Type
11 Hours | 15 Mins
Start Date
End Date
11 Hours | 15 Mins
Brisbane City QLD 4000
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