During my recent planning trip to Sri Lanka I was lucky enough to visit the Teaching Hospital Karapitiya (THK) in beautiful Galle in southern Sri Lanka.
Specifically I took a brief look at the Emergency Treatment Unit (ETU) within the Emergency Trauma Centre (ETC).
The Victorian Government assisted in the rebuilding and redesign of this Centre following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The responsibility for capacity development within the centre was taken on by The Alfred Emergency and Trauma Centre clinicians.
As a result of this collaboration THK has a fully functional Level One ETC. The ETU here will be the model for the development of similar units around the country in the next decade.
As you can see the room looks and feels very much like many of the units we have all worked within, with a central work station surrounded by 25 acute monitored bays.
There is also a 4 bed resuscitation room. This room was thankfully and beautifully air conditioned, a fact that was greatly appreciated by my unacclimated body.
Within 5 mins in the main department I was a big sweaty mess, wondering how the hard working doctors and nurses in the ETU maintained their cool in long shirts, ties and crisply pressed uniforms. They’re an amazing group, dealing with the frequent emergency presentations with calm coolness despite the heat and humidity.
Indeed the system within the ETC sees all triage category 4 and 5 patients swiftly directed over to another department, Outpatients, so the ETU can deal only with the sickest or the sick.
The patients seen in the ETU are indeed really crook.
It’s the type of emergency medicine that attracted me to the specialty 20 years ago.
Just in the hour I was in the department the case mix was incredible with phenomenal critical care happening all over the department.
There were cases most of us would see frequently including a cardiac arrest, a generalised convulsion, a Traumatic Subdural (with a twist- he was being weaned from ventilation after his craniotomy 4 days previously), and a clinically diagnosed Extradural in a 3 year old.
Then there was the routine stuff for our Sri Lankan colleagues, an organophosphate overdose and a case of Pulmonary Leptospirosis. No dengue cases but they were probably en route in a 3 wheeler (tuk tuk).
And this was a quiet day.
Many of the staff at THK will be assisting with DevelopingEM 2016 and are looking forward to interacting with Emergency Physicians from around the globe.
Their enthusiasm for our process has been incredible and this despite the fact that the average work schedule for a Sri Lankan clinician makes me feel like Im on permanent vacation when working in Australia. Our colleagues usually work 29 days out of 30. I don’t know about you but it makes me feel just a tad lazy. When we then see the type of incredible work they are all doing it’s even more impressive.
We’re hoping to have a day trip down to Galle and THK during the conference week so factor that in when our registration website opens in a few weeks.
Id like to thank the team at THK for showing me around recently and helping out with the development of our conference.
Specifically, I need to thank Ranjana Seneviratne, Krishantha Jayasekera and Nilanka Wickramaratne who really looked after Jodie and myself.
The wonderful photos you can see here and on Facebook are from Nick Taylor, the Director of Emergency Medicine Training at The Canberra Hospital, who is spending six months based in Galle, teaching, working and learning with our Sri Lankan colleagues. You can check out the blog he’s constructed to assist with local EM training here at
Our team is currently working hard to get the new website registration ready in the next few weeks so stay tuned and then get to registering- your Sri Lankan colleagues are waiting to show you around.