• Michelle Partington

The elephant in the room…

So im in Budapest, the capital of Hungary and its such a beautiful city with lots to see. As I walked around it became obvious that the city was steeped in military history. On my return I read up on the history further. Budapest was the focal point of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the Hungarian Republic of Councils of 1919,Operation Panzerfaust in 1944, the Battle of Budapest in 1945, and the Revolution of 1956. It has fought for its livelihood and it has paid off. Walking around I was in awe of the amazing architecture of the buildings. I walked from the town to the most serene of parks and I sat there breathing in the fresh air, listening to dogs barking as they chase each other across the grass. I thought of my gorgeous pooch and how much im missing her. Just her being with me brings a calming effect. Sitting in the park was such a contrast from the busy streets and I enjoyed the peace and space to come down from my presentation.

We have all been in a situation were there is an important topic that everyone in the room is aware of, yet it isn’t discussed because such a discussion is considered to be uncomfortable….well I discussed one such topic today.

I was invited to speak at the NATO First Responder Trainers Symposium. Throughout the 3 day course topics such as training, procedures & protocols for first responders had been covered. It was refreshing to see that psychological aspects of first responder performance had also been included. This is the first time I have seen this on any programme but it is so very vital.

My lecture was the last one before the end of the symposium and I found myself apologising for depressing them all before lunch 😨. Seriously though it was important for attendees to be aware not only about first responders clinical skills, but also about the risk of placing them in such a position on the battlefield.

I absolutely loved being a paramedic in the NHS because it was so very varied. It isn’t in the operational arena so much. Trauma is sadly the main area of our business due to the very nature of being in a war zone. No amount of training can ever prepare medical professionals for the sheer volume and severity of trauma seen out in Afghanistan. It isn’t only the sight and severity of the injuries, it’s the smells, noise and feelings that also come along for the ride. It isn’t something you can push to the back of your mind forever. Someday it will come back to haunt you and it can manifest itself in so many ways.

As I mentioned to the guys today, if the person in your charge goes on tour and then returns a different person then you need to start questioning why sooner rather than later. Don’t ignore the elephant in the room….


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