Emergency services brace for Schoolies onslaught

Emergency services plan to use CSIRO technology this year to plan for schoolies-related injuries on the Gold Coast. (CSIRO)

As thousands of school leavers pack their sunnies and sunscreen for a week of partying on the Gold Coast, emergency services workers are busy preparing their sutures and saline.

Some 28,000 schoolies will descend on the Queensland city during November, and more than 500 are expected to need emergency care.

A team of medical professionals from Gold Coast Health and the Queensland Ambulance Service will man a purpose-built tent near the beach to cater to medical needs.

Emergency physician Dr James Lind will be among those standing by.  

"These Schoolies used to present and flood the emergency department with their various ailments," he says.

"A few years ago, we decided to do this in a different way and take the emergency tents to Schoolies, so we set the tents up."

This year, they'll be even more prepared, drawing on CSIRO technology to help predict the volume and type of injuries.

"For the first time this year, we looked at the data and we actually now understand how many schoolies are going to present, when they'll present, and what injuries," says Dr Lind.  

The top three expected injuries are alcohol intoxication, drug poisoning and cuts to hands and feet from broken glass.

David Hansen of the CSIRO Australian e-Health Research Centre says predicting the needs of schoolies will help alleviate stress on the medical system.

"The idea is, they're treating as many of the schoolies who need treatment down on the beach, and those schoolies aren't going to the hospital and using up basic resources, so the hospital operates normally."

Dr Lind says Schoolies should be aware that medical teams are standing by to help, but his advice to school leavers is also clear: "Party responsibly, be with your mates and also wear your shoes on the beach."

Source SBS

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