Three paramedicine students from AUT South Campus recently returned from clinical placement in Cape Town – ‘the trauma capital of the world’.
Zoe Farmer, Brody Mangos and Sam Rabone are completing the second year of a Bachelor of Health Science in Paramedicine.
They were selected by Team Australia Emergency Medical Services (EMS), together with 10 paramedicine students from across the Tasman, to take part in a professional development tour – working on ambulances with local crews in Cape Town.
“International placements provide students with a number of learning opportunities, simply by being exposed to injuries and illnesses they may not commonly see in New Zealand,” says Luke Summers, Programme Leader, Paramedicine at AUT South Campus.
Despite its reputation as a dangerous place, Farmer says they were well prepared for South Africa and there was never a point where she felt unsafe.
The majority of trauma cases she worked on were car accidents.
“South Africa is portrayed as being extreme, but it has so much to offer – you just have to use your common sense. The stories we heard were heart-warming and heart-breaking,” she says.
Mangos describes his experience in Cape Town as incredible, but brutal at times – a place where emergency response can resemble something like a spectator sport.
When venturing into a shantytown, his unit was quickly surrounded by a throng of more than a hundred locals.
“You’ll be working on patient and bystanders are right in your face. It’s the most exposed I have ever felt out in the field,” he says.
Unlike New Zealand, where land ambulance services are primarily centralised, Cape Town has a combination of public, private and volunteer providers.
Mangos says multiple units will turn up at the scene of an accident – “like towies fighting over a car”.
The atmosphere is highly competitive – occasionally chaotic. But, a strong sense of camaraderie exists within each unit.
“To have a people welcome me, like they’re worked with me for years, is amazing. Being part of a team and experiencing a different culture and way of life really broadens your mind,” says Farmer.
Mangos agrees. While New Zealand will always be home, he’s looking to travel and work, and see the world – possibly with the Royal New Zealand Air Force or Red Cross.
All three students would go back to Cape Town and do it again.
“Our graduates are employed around the world. International placements provide a sample of the opportunities that exist offshore and it’s something we wholeheartedly support,” says Summers.
Brody Mangos, Zoe Farmer and Sam Rabone