This new section of the College website is dedicated to minimising impact of floods, supporting members through crises, and speeding the return to normal practice functions in the aftermath of the flood.
ACRRM is part of rural medical collaboration working to quickly establish channels through which members can offer resources or locum assistance to other members in immediate need.
If you would like to suggest additional material or resources for this page, please email acrrmacrrm [dot] org [dot] au and write 'Flood Resources' in the subject line.
Information, alerts, warnings
ABC Local Radio : Includes links to local radio frequencies, local flood maps, emergency services, and support services.
Weather and flood warnings (Bureau of Meteorology) : Severe weather warnings, flood warnings and water level projections, etc.
Text alerts : You can sign up for free early warning messages, which are delivered as text to your mobile phone.
PDP: end of triennium compliance documents
Any members who are concerned regarding their PDP compliance status, please contact the PDP team for assistance on 1800 223 226 or email pdpacrrm [dot] org [dot] au.
International Medical Graduates: PESCIs and Pathways
All of ACRRM’s scheduled pre-employment structured clinical interviews (PESCIs) and assessment pathway programs are continuing on schedule. If you have any questions, please contact Nigel McPaul or Annelise Carter on 1800 223 226 or email n [dot] mcpaulacrrm [dot] org [dot] au and a [dot] carteracrrm [dot] org [dot] au.
John Flynn Placement Program
ACRRM’s JFPP team has contacted all affected students, mentors, community contacts. Placements are winding down now as semester is about to start. However, if you have any questions, please call the team at ACRRM on 1800 231 231 or email jfppacrrm [dot] org [dot] au.
SES phone (all states): 132 500
Preparing for the emergency
Prepare your people and premises
Brindabella Family Practice in Queanbeyan, NSW, was flooded on 10 December 2010 ACRRM Fellow, Dr David Poland, said that he and his team had 20 minutes to move vital records and equipment to the upper floor. Their flood preparation and recovery plan had the practice up and running again within 90 hours. Dr Poland has given ACRRM permission to publish a copy of the Brindabella Family Practice’s very detailed flood preparation and recovery plan.
“Get Ready!” (a book for children, Red Cross)
Restarting your practice (after the flood)
Business operators returning to premises (Brisbane City Council publication)
Getting back to business (Qld Chamber of Commerce). The page addresses businesses recovering from floods and finance issues.
Returning home (after the flood)
Residents returning home (Brisbane City Council publication)
Cleaning up after a flood (Red Cross)
Grief and trauma support
The flood of (normal) emotions
Shock, confusion, distress and despair manifest in the faces of flood victims are all part of the normal human responses to a traumatic event, says ACRRM Fellow and head of the WA Rural Clinical School, Dr Geoff Riley.
Dr Riley warns against pathologising what is essentially normal behaviour. Read Dr Riley's article...
Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS): Divisions of General Practice are funded to deliver psychological services at no or low cost to patients. ATAPS services and Medicare-based mental health services are already available through existing funding arrangements.
ANZ Mental Health Association (blogspot): Features an article posted 12 January, "How to help psychologically during – and after – the floods."
Free counselling for ACRRM registrars and supervisors
GPET has offered to provide free counselling to ACRRM registrars and supervisors directly affected by the current flooding crises. This service will be available at least until May this year. To book a phone or face-to-face counselling service, please call GPET’s contracted provider Innovative People Solutions (IPS), on 1300 366 789 between 8 am and 6 pm (Sydney—AEDST). There is also an after-hours crisis line: 1800 451 138. You can read more about employee assistance programs on the IPS site.
Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
Kids Help Line: 1800 55 1800
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 46 36
Bush Crisis Line: 1800 805 391 (for rural doctors and other health workers)
The mind in crisis: to debrief or not to debrief?
This is an edition of the ABC Radio National program, All in the Mind: "Psychological debriefing is a technique aimed at helping us process traumatic events, so the emotional scars can heal not harm. To some the approach is discredited, ineffective and may even do damage -- to others it can still have an important role. Beyond the controversy, where does the field stand today?" Click the title link to listen online or download the transcript.
Nuclear radiation (patients returning from Japan)
ACRRM members may be asked by patients, friends, or colleagues for information about the risk of radiation exposure to people returning from Japan. ACRRM President, Dr Jeff Ayton, represented the College at a GP roundtable on the issue. He emphasises two important points:
- The radiation threat to the health of Australians living in, or visiting, Japan is considered negligible.
- Radiation from the damaged Japanese nuclear power stations present no current health risk to Australians living in Australia.
FAQs for GPs
In the paper, Frequently Asked Questions for Medical Practitioners, you'll find answers to questions that a GP is likely to be asked by a patient returning from, or going to, Japan:
- Do people returning from Japan represent health risks to others?
- I am travelling to Japan. Can I protect myself from radiation?
- What is ionising radiation?
- What are the symptoms of radiation sickness?
The situation in Japan is being closely monitored by Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Authority (ARPANSA).
Dr Ayton strongly recommends that members read the advisory notices and fact sheet for doctors, which are posted on the ARPANSA website: http://www.arpansa.gov.au/.
Financial assistance (inside Australia)
Queensland Government (individuals and families)
- Personal hardship assistance
- Essential Household Contents Grant
- Structural Assistance Grant
- Other financial assistance
Victoria Government (individuals, families, business)
- Personal Hardship Grants
- Assistance Available for Affected Businesses
- Financial Advice
NSW Government (Rural Assistance Authority)
Australian Government (for business)
- Grants and assistance
- Other assistance
The college, in collaboration with RDAA and Health Workforce Queensland, expects to launch tomorrow a mechanism for identifying the need for locums in the current flood crises, and receiving expressions of interest from members wanting to volunteer their medical services.
Meanwhile, if you would like to volunteer for locum services, or you need a locum, please email acrrmacrrm [dot] org [dot] au and place “Flood Locum” in the subject line.
About medical volunteering (locum work) in the wake of natural disasters
Following the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, ACRRM Fellow, george [dot] somersmonash [dot] edu (Dr George Somers), led a team of 43 doctors and nurses to Aceh. Five years later, he was a volunteer medico in Victoria following the Black Saturday Bushfires.
At ACRRM’s request, Dr Somers has written an article about medical volunteering, based on his 30 years experience volunteering in communities affected by natural disasters. His observations include the following:
Be self-contained and resourceful
“ … all volunteers must be self-sustaining: physically, emotionally and even spiritually. When you arrive, you must not expect support from those you have come to help, although you will almost certainly get this. In order to survive this you will need to have a balanced approach to life. You will need to be psychologically flexible and well. This need is not different to your regular practice. A professional support group is vital, as the risk of isolation is great in a disaster recovery situation.
New social ‘fault lines’ develop in communities
"You will see a great many distressed people. Some individuals may have lost everything, others, (seemingly) nothing. Sometimes, it is the victims who seem to have lost least who suffer most. Post-disaster communities may consist of those who were involved in the disaster, usually as victims, but also as responders. Pre-disaster community members, who were “unfortunate” enough to have been absent, to not have been affected, or not to have been in a place to respond, often suffer a sense of dislocation and exclusion from the post-disaster community. Their grief relates to this sense of exclusion and may have the worst consequences when one spouse was involved and the other not."
Make things better than before
"Apart from the individual and families, your other focus will be community resilience. Community resilience may be measured by a willingness and ability of community members to return and to “Build Back Better.” Post recovery, a resilient community will be stronger, recognisably similar but not necessarily the same. A common slogan in Aceh was “Normal is over.”
You may be asked to help victims decide whether they should stay or leave.”
Read Dr Somers's entire article.