Set in the typical Italian town of Novara, at the peak of summer is the TdmT(Training for Disaster Medicine trainers). Organised by CRIMEDIM under the University of Piemonte Orientale, TdmT is a two weeks long intensive course that focuses on disaster preparedness and disaster response. This training is a collaboration between IFMSA and CRIMEDIM to encourage peer education in the field of disaster management. At the end, each individual is an IFMSA certified trainer eligible to hold the trainings in their respective countries.
The course has 3 aspects: classroom sessions, simulations and on ground visits. The sessions are taken by CRIMEDIM faculty on topics varying from the basics to understanding the complexities of the international disaster response. The most exciting part of the training is the simulation which includes use of multiple software platforms that recreate disaster scenarios clarifying concepts and embedding them. A typical day at the program would begin with sessions which are highly interactive and include seriously firing off your neurons. Then one would stroll down the cobble street lanes for an Italian lunch. To ensure that the heat and postprandial glucose rush don’t lull you to sleep, most simulations are post lunch. A classic example of the same would be triaging victims of a railroad accident with multiple patients walking away just as you began to triage them.
While the first week essentially focuses on learning the key concepts of disaster management, the second week focuses on equipping you as a trainer. We had a variety of sessions to understand different teaching styles, delivery techniques etc. Having attended both the Pre GA session and the residential training, I felt more equipped to become a trainer post Novara. The time, rigorousness and depth with which each topic is covered creates a greater impact. The course just isn’t completed here. It is followed by a 3 month online course before we take our final test and get certified as trainers.
To me, disaster medicine meant more about turning up at exotic locations and saving lives of the denizens. As one of our trainers so tactfully mentioned that as doctors, our role isn’t to play the superhero at situations of conflict but work to prevent them. In areas which are unequipped to deal with it, our job is to equip them to deal with the disasters. To bring this point home, we had several guest lecturers who spoke of their volunteering experiences. Every one of them had worked in excruciating circumstances and helped relieve people from their agony. Yet they extolled the importance of working towards disaster mitigation instead of primary care in disaster situations.
In conclusion,I’d like to say that the two best weeks of my life were spent at this training where I learnt so much more about disaster management and my role as a future healthcare professional towards the same. Having had the opportunity to interact with so many individuals from a plethora of countries, I see the urgent need to invest resources into what seems to be a pressing problem.