Farm services giant, Nutrien Ag Solutions, is co-ordinating a major push to train up agricultural sector workers in life saving skills so they can provide vital early intervention aid at accident scenes before medical professionals arrive.
Nutrien has teamed up with CareFlight to help roll out three years of training across Australia to deliver emergency trauma skills education specifically relevant to people in farm sector work.
About 180 day-long courses will offer practical training similar to that provided to first responders such as rescue squad members, fire fighters and Red Cross volunteers.
The aim is to upskill more people with basic early intervention capabilities which can deliver precious and timely aid before an ambulance or medical expert can get to the scene in areas where medical services are often hundreds of kilometres away.
The course, which started with a pilot program tested in NSW's West Wyalong district a few months ago, includes showing participants how to make use of tools and items they may have close to hand - even baling twine, seatbelts or contents from an esky.
CareFlight chief executive officer, Mick Frewen, said the not-for-profit aeromedical organisation identified an urgent need to strengthen early intervention skills on farms where access to swift medical help was not as commonplace as metropolitan areas.
Fatality rates on farms are almost eight times higher than the rate across other industries, according to SafeWork Australia.
"For more than 35 years our teams have experienced first hand how important those first few minutes after an accident can be," Mr Frewen said.
"First responders, whether local passers-by, farmers or others may need to help sustain life for trauma patients until professional medical help arrives."
Nutrien's head of safety, Richard Dovison said the more people with early intervention skills, the more lives could be saved.
"The goal for us is clear. We will help equip our ag communities with essential skills and training to protect lives and reduce fatalities," he said.
"Failure to address these unenviable statistics on the high-risk profile associated with working in agriculture will result in no improvement in regional safety and health."
Mr Dovison said about 4000 Nutrien employees ranging from agronomists to saleyard workers, and the company's farmer customers, were involved with heavy machinery and large animals every day, often in isolated locations.
They were often hundreds of kilometres from the nearest hospital or emergency clinic.
"Regional Australians often find themselves at the frontline of emergency incidents, so we want to make sure our communities are prepared and confident to take the right actions that could save a life," he said.
The Emergency Trauma Training initiative will start in February, co-ordinated via Nutrien branches in regional areas, drawing in customers and other farm sector participants to take advantage of the courses.
Practical help for ag
Branch manager at Nutrien Ag Solutions at West Wyalong, Bud Cameron, participated in the recent pilot program.
"It's practical training that's really targeted at our industry and line of work," he said.
"It includes how to utilise everyday items on hand like a seatbelt, bailing twine in the back of the ute, or the shirt off your back when responding to an emergency incident.
"Many of our growers and colleagues have found themselves first on the scene of a major incident, crash or accident.
"Having these life-saving skills is absolutely essentially in rural and remote areas."
CareFlight, established in 1986, operates helicopters, turbo-prop and jet aircraft and employs doctors, paramedics and nurses to treat and transfer patients from accident scenes and between hospitals.
The aeromedical charity is also a registered training organisation running a community-focused national education program similar to the new farm sector initiative.
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