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Neonatal Resuscitation program helps regional babies


Mater Education was recently engaged by the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) to provide education and training to flight nurses with the ultimate goal of giving even greater peace of mind to pregnant women living and working in rural and remote areas of Queensland.

Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Flight Nurse/Nursing Education Officer Loretto Harvey explained that for pregnant Queensland women who live hundreds of kilometres from the nearest hospital or birthing service, the RFDS is often their lifeline to the safe arrival of their baby.

“We transfer many women who have gone into pre-term labour, prior to 37 weeks’ gestation, and who are at high risk of delivering a premature baby. What we know from research is that there is an improved neonatal outcome with appropriate in-utero transfer to centres that manage high volumes of preterm newborns,” Loretto said.

“If a baby is born in a remote community, even at term, and the mother and baby appear to be not at immediate risk, there is often inadequate support and facilities in remote communities to deal with common post-natal problems.”

The flight nurse is responsible and accountable for the nursing/ midwifery care provided during the aeromedical transfer.

“Flight nurses work independently and autonomously. Therefore, it’s a mandatory requirement that they maintain essential skills such as neonatal resuscitation,” Loretto said.

Mater Simulation Educator Alison Michaels recently travelled to the RFDS Townsville Base to complete the RFDS flight nurses’ annual recertification in neonatal resuscitation.

The Neonatal Resuscitation program is a one-day specialised training program comprising lectures, hands-on skill-stations and simulation-based scenarios.

“Simulation is an essential component of training for neonatal resuscitation and other complex, high-risk procedures, as it enables healthcare professionals to prepare for, and overcome, potential complications prior to the real event,” Alison said.

Mater Education offers the Neonatal Resuscitation program at its world-class simulation facilities in Brisbane. However, conducting the training at the aircraft hangar at the RFDS Townsville Base ensured that the simulations were contextually appropriate.

“It’s important that any simulation is as close to real life as possible. Obviously, a flight nurse who is working on their own in a small aircraft, 10 000 feet in the air and hours away from the nearest hospital is very different from the birth suite recreated in our simulation facility where we have more equipment and a doctor and nurses working together.”

A valuable part of the simulation was the debrief conducted after each simulation.

“After a simulation, everyone gets involved in a discussion about what worked well and how we can improve the things that didn’t work so well. This analytical approach is enormously useful for anticipating problems that might happen in the air, and to plan how the fight nurses could respond to these problems with the equipment available to them on board the aircraft,” Alison said.

“By practising real-life scenarios, the flight nurses are able to rehearse and prepare for emergencies, such as a neonatal resuscitation.

“Ultimately, simulation minimises risk, maximises patient safety and increases the likelihood of a positive health outcome for babies born in flight.”

Learn more about the Neonatal Resuscitation program and how to apply.