Student medics, Cat Farrelly (left) and Hannah McAndrew (right)
From rehearsal to the stage, Cornwall medics perform first-rate care at Reading Festival
A group of Cornwall-based medical students took centre stage at the high-profile Reading Festival by helping to deliver top medical care to revellers.
Seven trainee medics from the University of Exeter Medical School put their training into practice by manning the first aid tent and responding to incidents at one of the biggest festivals in the UK.
The students undertook four days of special training to prepare them for the extremities of the music festival, where they expected to respond to minor injuries and other illnesses at the 191-acre site, which accommodated more than 100,000 music fans over the weekend.
Cat Farrelly, a fourth-year student on the Medicine programme, and one of the student volunteers, said: “I signed up to be a first responder because it was a great opportunity to apply my clinical skills to a new and challenging environment, working in teams made up of lots of different healthcare professionals from across the country.
“It was extremely rewarding helping people struggling to get back on their feet to enjoy the rest of the festival.”
Dan James, also a fourth-year Medicine student, added: “It was a great way to see how those first few steps are vital for looking after an unwell patient. I was working with an amazing group of paramedics, nurses and emergency responders who I felt confident asking for advice and support throughout my duties.
“It was really satisfying to see how a handful of medical supplies, some water and a blanket can make the world of difference to even the most unwell patients. I’ve volunteered at festivals before as a steward, but I think working as a First Responder has helped me gain new skills that I can now bring back to my fourth and fifth years of Medicine.”
Olivia Eguiguren Wray, who was also part of the medical team, shared some knowledge on the challenges that the team faced: “For me, a particular stand out moment was when a patient came in with a severe asthma attack. He was struggling to talk, just saying a few words, and his lips were starting to turn blue.
“With a trained paramedic, we assessed the patient, gave him the medications he needed and continued to monitor him. It would have been easy to panic in this situation, but I felt fully supported by a great team and was able to work to the very limit of my emergency care training. Thankfully, the patient started to improve and he was taken to the medical centre for further treatment.”
The Medical School has a partnership with Festival Medical Services (FMS) – an organisation that provides cover at large-scale music events while raising money for charity events – which enables seven year 3 students to work as First Aid volunteers at Glastonbury or Reading Festival each year.
Dr Ian Fussell, Community Sub Dean in Truro and Senior Team Member of FMS, said: “Our collaboration with Festival Medical Services provides a fantastic opportunity for our medical students. For the past five years, our students have joined the medical team in delivering first-class care at large-scale music festivals such as Glastonbury and Reading. Responding to different incidents in a fast-paced, ever-changing festival environment has prepared them well for life on the NHS frontline. They were fantastic ambassadors for the Medical School and I am very proud of them.”
Students are invited to apply for a place on the FMS Responder team each year and are expected to contribute to the funding of their training for this role.
For more information on how to apply, contact Dr Fussell, Community Sub Dean in Truro.
Date: 28 August 2018