A national and international reputation in the education of high-quality, emergency care providers who are sought after is just one of the achievements of the Durban University of Technology’s Department of Emergency Medical Care & Rescue.
It is under the helm of Simpiwe Sobuwa, who is the Acting Head of Department and currently co-ordinates the fourth year of Bachelor of Health Sciences in Emergency Medical Care.
He holds a Master of Science degree in Emergency Medicine from the University of Cape Town and is registered for a PhD at the same institution.
He serves on the Executive Committee of the Emergency Care Society of South Africa as Director, and he is also the Vice-Chair of the Professional Board of Emergency Care (HPCSA).
Establishing relationships with medical rescues services, as well as the SAPS, is important to the department as both students and staff aim to create awareness and insight into the workings of emergency services, paramedics and rescue members in that they play a vital role in serving the community and society at large.
Students also gain extensive, hands-on experience working alongside these vital emergency services in Durban.
The Emergency Medical Care & Rescue department recently made headlines for their ‘rescue’ achievements, thanks to dedicated lecturers like Travis Trower, who currently coordinates the technical medical rescue components across all levels of the Bachelor of Health Sciences degree in Emergency Medical Care.
He has over 15 years of experience in the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) field. His experience encompasses EMS clinical practice and EMS operations, and his area of expertise lies in advanced technical medical rescue – his primary lecturing responsibility.
In recent years, he has become a renowned specialist in the technical medical rescue field, having actively participated in a number of technical rescue conventions locally and internationally.
In November 2013 staff from the Department of Emergency Medical Care and Rescue at DUT were involved in a rescue effort at the Tongaat Mall after a concrete slab caved in.
Aldon Delport and Travis Trower, both lecturers in the Department, were called in to help in the rescue operation not just for their expertise but because DUT Emergency Medical Care and Rescue (EMCR) have the best search specialist equipment and expertise in rescue services.
Trower was also part of the Gift of the Givers Rescue team that went over to Nepal, which had experienced a devastating earthquake, to assist in search and rescue activities.
Said Sobuwa: “South African emergency service institute (SAESI) hosts a competition every two years which is meant to test the abilities of all emergency personal. Two groups of DUT students accepted the challenge and entered the advanced high-angle rescue competition, taking 2nd and 3rd place.
“During the SAESI competition, participants at SAESI were also invited to participate in a world record attempt. The record attempt saw teams of 10 pulling a fully-loaded (19 tonne) fire truck in relay along a gradient of 2.109% for a distance of 1.2km. They did this in minutes and broke the record.”
Trower is a regular rescue helper at the annual DUSI canoe race and was recently featured in a local newspapers after he and a DUT trainee paramedic used the jaws-of-life and extricated the patient out of a mangled vehicle wreck near Copesville in April 2016.
Trower was also recently called to help the SAPS search and rescue unit with a body recovery at Oribi Gorge.
“This rescue would not have taken place without Trower’s technical expertise and the department’s rope that was used for the call, as no one in KwaZulu-Natal has the length of rope that was required for that case,” stressed Sobuwa.
He is very excited that DUT currently has three PhD students registered, a first for the department.
“We are very proud of our department and its achievements, and hope to encourage more students to enter and apply for the Bachelor of Health Sciences in Emergency Medical Care (BHSc: EMC), Master of Health Sciences in Emergency Medical Care and Doctor of Philosophy in Emergency Medical Care. Such a profession provides a vital service to the community, as emergency care providers are responsible for providing rescue services to critically ill or injured patients,” he said.
Added Sobuwa: “This involves gaining access to the patient, often in hostile environments, providing emergency medical care and stabilisation in the field, and ensuring their transportation by whatever means to the most appropriate medical facilities for definitive care and onward management.”
Pictured: Travis Trower along with Simpiwe Sobuwa from Durban University of Technology’s Department of Emergency Medical Care & Rescue.