Learning about Disaster Medicine through IFMSA

The outcomes of the First International Summer Course in Disaster Medicine

After two weeks in Novara, Italy, the First International Summer Course in Disaster Medicine has come to an end.

The summer course marks the start of the International Training Disaster Medicine Trainers (TdmT) initiative, a collaboration between IFMSA and CRIMEDIM, aiming to fill in some of the gaps on disaster and emergency medicine in medical curricula.

During the course, we have gained a wide and comprehensive knowledge of the core problems that physicians face in disasters. Topics ranged from practical skills to ethical dilemmas and challenges in international coordination and have been taught through a wide range of teaching methods, including traditional lectures, field and computer simulations and case-based discussions. Medical students from more than 10 countries had the chance to learn from and hear first hand experience from international experts from international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Mdecins Sans Frontires (MSF), the European Master on Disaster Medicine (EMDM) Alumni, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHOTdmT17L) and experienced CRIMEDIM professionals. At the same time, experienced IFMSA trainers delivered high-quality trainings on teaching methodologies all aiming to create the first ever one-day training on emergency disaster medicine that will be disseminated in students communities.

Through innovative teaching methods we have now become the first generation of medical students to be Disaster Medicine Trainers. Using innovative teaching methods and with the support of supervisors and professionals we developed a 5-hour workshop Basic Course on Disaster Medicine. After returning to our home countries we will deliver the sessions to our peers. At the same time more activities are being prepared, with planned international online courses, 3-day international residential workshops, thematic workshops in various events and many more. With this, we hope to increase knowledge and skills in disaster medicine among medical students, use this knowledge to promote the need for such skills among future health care providers and advocate for comprehensive courses on the topics as part of medical curriculum.

How was is to be a participant – a personal experience

TdmT6LFirst of all, I feel so lucky to be among 15 students from different parts of the world to participate in the the 1st International Course on Disaster Medicine. In spite of the difficulties of obtaining Schengen visa, I made it and got the visa just 2 days before the beginning of the course. I learnt a lot during this amazing course especially as we don’t have opportunity to take part in this kind of course in our medical curriculum. Since I live in a country with a lot of conflicts and terrorism it is important to know more about disasters and Emergency medicine.

During the course we had the pleasure to meet amazing people who gave us the lectures and workshops. Most of them were taking real actions in disasters and were part of MSF and the European Master in Disaster Medicine. We had the chance to participate in different kinds of simulations like Mass Casualty Triage, Prehospital response. During these simulations we had the real feeling of a disaster and how to communicate with each other in hard situations. During those simulations weTdmT19L used walkie-talkie to communicate with each other, just like in real life.

In addition to learning a lot of information during the course, I met amazing medical students and made great friendships that would last for a long time. After coming back home what I hope to deliver a similar course here in Baghdad to train my colleagues. Additionally, I will work on making workshops about emergency medicine more available to everyone in my community.

The post is written by participants of the First International Training Disaster Medicine Trainers: Alice Claeson (IFMSA-Sweden) and Ali Husam Hikmat (IFMSA-Iraq).

The TdmT Team includes: Luca Ragazzoni, Patrick Achkar, Giancarlo Bruno, Monika Bednarek, Eleonora Leopardi, Moa Herrgard, Ljiljana Lukic, Alice Cleason. For any questions please contact us on [email protected].

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