Archive | May 2014

Book Review: With Spirit and Courage; Paul Featherstone and Ian Head

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With Spirit and Courage; Paul Featherstone and Ian Head

Published 2002 by Mac Millan



I purchased this book on a whim, while trolling the internet for paramedics I came across a copy for sale on E-bay, I figured it would be an interesting read.  I was basically unable to put the book down between shifts, for those who follow me on twitter you may know my girlfriend had to confiscate my copy of “ABC’s of Prehospital Medcine” over the weekend (review forthcoming), this book evoked the same reaction, I had to hide this book down in the garage and read it while pretending to fix the dining room table (a task I am still avoiding).
Starting with young Paul Featherstone the origin story ( every good hero has an origin story)

The book goes through the initial inception/founding of SCAT (ASNSW’s Special Casualty Access Team). The identification of a need to access and treat patients where ever they may be.

training and development are covered and the book touches on the process of selecting and training the SCAT officers to perform in adverse conditions an arduous task from the initial team to the present day (Circa 2002).

But that’s not why you buy the book, no one wants to read about something you could get from a media blurb.

You buy it for the same reason everyone buys Paramedic books. Stories and this book is full of them emotional and inspiring. Throughout the book the tense moves from present to post event, I found this easy to read as it kept everything together in the one paragraph.

A unique feature of the book was the inclusion of significant figures quotations talking on Paul and events in the book. The quotes from his wife would make good reading to the partner of a Paramedic.

It was remarkable to read from a personal stand point, I believe its a book that should be on the required reading for ambulance officers. We spend long enough learning about the How of what we do. This book found me asking myself WHY I do what I do, and providing some answers. I think you’d be well served by giving you time to read this, put down the latest paper on the technical aspects of paramedicine and take some time to examine in yourself, why you do the job, or why you want to do the job.

This is a book about Paul Featherstone’s career, from the Granville Train disaster to plucking rock-fisherman from the water, this book covers all the action man stuff, but takes the time to thank all involved, not a chapter goes by without throwing the spotlight onto someone else.

By far the most compelling part of the book was the written account of the Threadbo rescue (for those non Australian readers info below) the picture below is that iconic image of he moment Diver was pulled from his “concrete tomb” as its described in the book. If you only read one section of the book, it would be the Threadbo section.

I’m delighted with my purchase of this book, if you can find a copy on ebay or in a used book store its an amazing read and you’ll be disappointed when it ends I know I was.
its similar in style to Kelly Grayson’s Life and Death and everything in between which is well worth the read.
Any current Paramedic or Student would get a good deal of enjoyment out of this.
What I think makes this book so appealing is the local aspect, while overseas books are well written. You don’t feel the same affinity that you automatically build with a local biography that you can identity with.

Stuart Diver is released from the Threadbo Landslide site

I was 7 when this all happened, its one of the few iconic moments I remember watching on the evening news, as my parents had hustled me and my brother into the lounge room and told us to be very quiet and just listen.
I was utterly compelled to keep reading through these chapters until the entire journey through the saga was complete.
A today tonight segment on Paul Featherstone upon his retirement, details his vast experience and life;

For overseas readers

The Threadbo Landslide;


The Granville Rail Disaster;


SMACC GOLD: A Paramedics experience


I tried to sum it up in a podcast (can be done….. just can’t be done), I’ve probably only captured 40% of the feeling I had.

An Amazing experience, full of Amazing and down to earth people.

NEVER have a been to a conference where speakers so freely interact with the audience.
NEVER have I been to conferecne so open and available to everyone, from experts in their field of medicine to paramedic students, EVERYONE was welcome.

I hope I pronounced everyone’s names right

I made the decision to stay right away from the checklist debate in the podcast…. I don’t want to stoke that fire again!

without further procrastination here’s the podcast:

ITunes(slightly slower to update, new episode may or may not be up, subscribe and it will be automatically delivered when I add it):

direct feed for those who don’t use I tunes:

For further reading; 
Alan Batt’s AMAZING Post on SMACCGold, Alan managed to capture the conference without actually being present.
(A huge thanks for permission to link to his post!) If you haven’t seen his site already this is a small example of the quality writing over on Prehosptial Research.

Podcast now on I-Tunes

Great news, I’ve now managed to get the DSCOT podcast onto I-Tunes, so if you could go over there.

Thanks, I’m currently talking on my Impressions of SMACC GOLD. That episode should be ready soon.

Leatherman Raptor Review for DSCOT Blog

The video review of me cutting up some boots to put the Leatherman Raptor through its paces.

Obviously I couldn’t film actual patient encounters, so I had to find a multi material boot to put the Shears through their paces, I think compared to my standard black handle “no name” shears they did rather well.
I’ve already reveiwed them in detail on this blog, so I won’t take you round in circles, here’s the link.

Bystander CPR and Heart Week 2014, and a story


Firstly, unaware it was Heart Week 2014 until I woke up from night-shift, Started the week with a Cardiac Arrest patient in which the team achieved Return of spontaneous circulation.

4-10th of May is Heart Week 2014, aiming to raise awareness of the symptoms of AMI and educate the public. The Heart Foundation has done a lot of education as to the warning signs and utility of early CPR, Early AED use, to the point where the average Australian has a passable command of CPR and AED use, even without formal training, awareness of  the importance of bystander CPR is growing, with good quality bystander CPR becoming commonplace due to the prevalence of  first aid certificates and CPR public awareness campaigns.

I was saving this story for later, however, Heart Week is as good a time as any, it concerns, Bystander CPR, Mental preparedness and a story that makes me immeasurably proud of my Father.

My father is a teacher, has spend the last 30+ year of his life teaching high school science, his medical training consists of the annual CPR refresher run online by his workplace, a 30 minute click through, multiple choice training package.

Every morning dad wakes up at six o’clock to walk the family dog, before heading off to work. This particular morning I was sipping my coffee when I heard the dog, out the front of the family house still on his the leash barking to get attention, dad usually brought him back around the back of the house, as soon as I was out the front, the dog took off back up the road, I chased after him as two ambulances had pulled around the corner, onto our street. There was a small crowd gathered outside one of the houses up the road.
The worst comes to mind, dog on the lead, ambulances, a crowd. Knowing ambulances duel respond to Cardiac arrest and not much else. I wait with the crowd, outside the house, increasingly concerned as to the location of my father.
When a neighbor walks up and asks if I’m Peters son. She’s the wife of the man that the Paramedics are currently working on. She tells me, my father was inside the house, he’d been walking the dog and she’d run out to the road looking for someone who knew CPR after her husband had collapsed, my father who was close by, offered his assistance. Having never done CPR outside of a classroom mannequin 3 years prior, my father put his hand up.
Asking another bystander to take the dog back to the house.

By the time the ambulance arrived the woman’s husband had been in cardiac arrest for 15 minutes. The entire time my father had been providing CPR, without a break to a person he didn’t know(Now I know this breaks every rule we have as professional rescuers, however no one on scene until the Ambulance was willing to take over CPR).
Once relieved by the Paramedics on scene my dad came out of the house.
We walked back to the house, made coffee and sat down.

This is by far the most enlightening conversation I’ve ever had with my dad. He talked about his experience in the house, about what he’d done, what he could have done differently and what was the chance of a good outcome for the man.
This was the first time my father had ever turned to me for advise and council. This was the first time I was ever able to talk to him as the expert on what he was doing.
After having this conversation with my dad, every time I come across a bystander providing CPR I make sure immediately as the come off the chest they are reassured, that they have done, well and done everything they could.

What does this have to do with mindset, this is the final point I want to address is often I’ve been to people that had a first aid certificate but failed to act, they had the technical knowledge but had failed to consider at that point the possibility they may have to use those skills at some point. If you ever teach CPR, to anyone, make sure they know, this is a skill that they need to know and when it comes time to use it they will have no time to weigh up the pros and cons of what they need to do.

I’m immensely proud of my father, because despite his lack of training, because of the person he is, he was able to act in a purposeful way and come to the aid of a person in need.
(He has since attended a proper first aid course, and a Advanced medical training I ran through my old job as an attendant and speaker)

I felt this was an appropriate week to share the story, permission was sought to share this story.

My father an I during the first day of the Overland Track Tasmania



Stroke research in the prehospital environment

A Small study of GTN to lower BP in acute stroke. 
Exploring the barriers to and barriers to effectively researching prehospital clinical procedures and protocols.

Prehospital Acute Neurological Treatment and Optimization of Medical care in Stroke Study (PHANTOM-S), conducted in Berlin, Germany

Face arm speech time test use in the prehospital setting, better in the ambulance than in the emergency medical communication center.

Secondary triage for Ambulance

An analysis of UK , USA papers on secondary triage for Ambulance attendance. 
Suggests that 31% of identified low acuity can be diverted through secondary treatment systems,  be that GP referal, Community Paramedics (significant to UK experience,  community paramedics don’t seem to have broken into the American prehospital system)

Definitely proves value in the secondary triage process,  the 30% mark seems to be consistent among different secondary triage services.

Patient Assessment

when I began at uni I used this patient assessment,  from a site that appears to have fallen into disuse.
A nice summary of comprehensive assessment. Another book I recommend for assessment is Assessment Skills for Paramedics
Well priced and worth every dollar.


Patient Assessment,  well written, good prehospital assessment rundown.