Primary Trauma Course in Jaffna Teaching Hospital

 by Dr. C. Ambalavanar


Trauma is one of the major causes for emergency admissions at the Jaffna Teaching Hospital. Over the past two decades much of this was due to war-related injuries. However over the past two years, with the reopening of the A-9, road accidents have become a major cause of trauma. This is directly related to the dramatic increase in vehicles on our narrow roads, including two wheelers and heavy vehicles. Allied with an almost total lack of awareness of road regulations by the local populace, it is not surprising that such a dramatic increase in road traffic accidents has come about. This is keeping the Teaching Hospital and its staff busy! There are, of course, the other causes of trauma as well such as accidental injuries, burns, etc.

Trainers and participants

The treatment of emergency trauma around the world is done by using different management protocols. What they all have in common is that they provide a systematic manner in which such emergencies can be quickly and efficiently taken care of. The Primary Trauma Course teaches one set of these protocols and is conducted worldwide. The Jaffna Medical Association was able to have this course conducted in the Jaffna Teaching Hospital from the 20th to 22nd January 2004. The course was attended by close to twenty doctors, mainly from the Jaffna Hospital, though there were also doctors from Mullaitivu and Tellipallai. The JMA was very fortunate in getting an excellent team of doctors from England,India and Sri Lanka to conduct this course. The team comprised of Dr.James de Courcey, Dr.Sarah Bakewell and Diane Wilkinson from England, Professor Rebecca Jacob from Vellore,India and Dr.Shirani Hapuarachi from Colombo. They held a half day course in Basic Life Support methods for the medical doctors as well.
Dr.Sarah Bakewell taking a case scenario

In addition to training doctors in the step by step management of trauma, the visitors also trained them to be instructers so that the JMA itself can continue to independently conduct this course in future. The JMA hopes to have an ongoing series of courses in the hospital while planning to also take the course into the Vanni and other parts of the North-East.The visiting doctors enjoyed their time in Jaffna immensely and also gained an insight into the problems faced by the Tamil community.

This course would not have been possible without the very active help of a few expat Tamils and organisations.
Learning airway management
Dr.Preman Jeyaratnam(UK) was the one responsible for making the necessary contacts with the team members and also raising a significant amount of funds. He participated in the course and has expressed a willingness to return to help conduct the course in future, too. Funds were also donated by TRRO (California), SCOT(UK), MIOT(UK), the Birmingham Tamil Association(UK) and the Sydney Tamil Christian Fellowship(Australia). There were also significant contributions from organisations in Colombo. The bulk of the money went towards the purchase of mannikins and teaching aids needed to conduct such a course and the rest towards travel and accommodation expenses.

For the doctors who participated the course was extremely useful and has infused in them an enthusiasm to take it forwards. This is also a good example of how expatriate Tamils can help in the long term improvemnt of healthcare and standards in the North-East.
Practise on a goat chest!

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Posted January 29, 2004