Paramedics standing together for photo

Buckinghamshire New University Paramedic Team enhances prehospital care in Sri Lanka

A team of dedicated healthcare professionals from Buckinghamshire New University (BNU) recently concluded a transformative trip to Sri Lanka. The initiative, conducted in collaboration with the 1990 Suwa Seriya Foundation (National Ambulance Service), aimed at advancing trauma care education for Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) nationwide and exploring potential partnerships with Higher Education Institutions for initial paramedic education. 

Generously sponsored by Sri Lankan Airlines and the IMHO, the BNU team, comprising Professor Will Broughton, Senior Lecturers Tim Weekes and Samantha Barry, Associate Lecturer Eva Bartoskova, and final-year student paramedics Jess Walter and Kate Crossey, embarked on an 8,000-kilometer journey to Sri Lanka on October 28th 2023. 

The 1990 Suwa Seriya Foundation, established in 2016 with a generous donation from the Indian government, operates a crucial emergency ambulance service with trained EMTs providing prehospital care-free of charge across the island. The BNU team conducted a comprehensive 7-day training program, reaching 252 EMTs and managers, focusing on essential trauma care. The curriculum included lectures, practical demonstrations, skills stations, and simulation-based learning, aligning with BNU's teaching methodologies on our own paramedic programme. 

 

Collage of teams performing life saving services on dummies

 

The feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive, with improved confidence reported in dealing with trauma victims. The training also attracted attention from the UK High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, Andrew Patrick, who visited a session in Colombo and later tweeted about the experience. 

In addition to the training sessions, the BNU team engaged in strategic meetings with key stakeholders, including the 1990 Board of Directors, the Dean of Medicine, and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Kelaniya. Discussions centred around the potential development of the EMT profession through Higher Education pathways, mirroring the UK's historical approach. 

Equipment that was used to deliver the training programme has been donated to the 1990 Suwa Seriya Foundation, so that this training may continue to be delivered by the in-house training team. The School of Health and Social Care Professions at BNU generously donated the following items:

  • 2 Laerdal Airway Management Heads
  • 1 Laerdal AED Trainer
  • 1 Child Manikin
  • 1 Infant Manikin
  • Various training consumables and simulation aids

 

 Paramedic students performing CPR on dummies

 

The BNU team's visit also included cultural experiences and visits to landmarks such as the 15th-century Dutch/Portuguese fort in Galle, grand temples in Kandy, and the hill-top palace ruins at Sigiriya.

Jess Walter, one of the final-year BNU paramedic students, expressed her gratitude, stating, "This was an incredible and unique opportunity that would not be available at any other university. Not only have I been able to pass on the skills I've learned in pre-hospital medicine, but I've also improved my own trauma skills." 

Kate Crossey, another final-year student, added, "It's been fantastic working with the faculty and EMTs of 1990. I've learned loads about education and feel very privileged to have been given the opportunity to visit such a beautiful country as part of my studies." 

The trip concluded with a visit to the local Emergency Department in Jaffna and the National Hospital in Colombo, followed by a final meeting with the CEO and Chief Medical Officer of 1990, fostering hopes for future collaborations. The BNU team left Sri Lanka with a sense of accomplishment and pride, knowing they have contributed to enhancing emergency medical training and prehospital care in the country. We hope to return in 2024 to continue building our relationship with 1990 and engaging with further knowledge exchange in the coming months.

 

Paramedics standing together for photo