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Maternity emergency training ensures rural birthing units are ready and able

L-r: Dean Moffitt, Fiona Kington, Gaylene Green, Wendy Pennell, Deb Cox, Sarah Jane Walker, Bev West, Jannette Klausen, Pip Wright.
Back Row: Grant Pomfrett. Karen Willenscroft, Dr Gillian Twinem, Kirsty Eales Penny Joynes.

Obstetric emergencies are uncommon in rural areas because it is usually low risk women who opt to stay at or near home to give birth – but when an emergency does occur, it is essential that local health staff work together well and quickly.

This is why Waikato maternity education puts a strong a focus on training staff in rural primary birthing units to deal with emergency situations, and schedules “hands on” sessions each year for the local health professionals – midwives, LMCs, rural hospital doctors, nurses, St John service staff and GPs – who will need to work together when a real situation happens.

For Di Peers, chair of the Waikato Maternity Quality and Safety Programme, the bottom line is that it should give women using our rural primary birthing services confidence that if an emergency does occur they are in safe hands.

The course is a mixture of lectures and simulated emergencies and drills set in the most realistic environment possible – rural primary birthing rooms.

Maternity emergency training ensures rural birthing units are ready and able2“Obstetric emergencies are uncommon in rural birthing units, so a health professional may not have been involved in a similar situation before,” says midwifery educator Pip Wright. “Doing the simulation training in a real life setting gives them confidence. In a real life situation they will know what everyone’s role is and what the process is. That means they can work quickly and effectively.”

Midwifery educators have held an increased number of the rural obstetric emergency training courses this year to ensure that all members of the teams involved in maternity care are ready and able to respond in an emergency.

“By the end of this year we will have completed nine training sessions – twice in Thames, three in Te Kuiti, and twice in both Taumarunui and Tokoroa,” Pip says.

She sees the training as growing in momentum with more health professionals wanting to be involved. “The training at Thames this year was the biggest turnout we have had. Health professionals came from all over the Coromandel – Whitianga and Paeroa as well as Coromandel town and Thames itself.”

The course was held at Thames Primary Birthing Unit and involved Emergency Department doctors and nurses from Thames Hospital, community midwives (LMCs), and Thames Primary Birthing Unit midwives plus a number of St John personnel including paramedics and emergency medical technicians.

Louise Rowden, charge midwife manager at Thames Primary Birthing Unit, says it was “awesome” to have all of the team at the Thames training.

“Of course we hope that this training is not needed – but if a situation does occur then the team of professionals have worked together before in a simulated emergency, they know each other and what to do, and that ensures the woman and baby have the best care.”

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