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Megan Roby, a fourth-year medicine student and one of the student volunteers. 

Medicine and Nursing students perform top medical care at Reading Festival

A group of students from the University of Exeter recently put their training into practice by helping to deliver first-rate medical care at Reading Festival.

Thirteen medical students and for the first time, one nursing student, based at the University's St Luke’s campus in Exeter and Truro campus in Cornwall, gained valuable experience of working in a fast-paced and busy environment by manning the first aid tent and responding to incidents at one of the biggest festivals in the UK.

Each of the students completed an intense emergency care four-day training course to prepare them for the extremities of the festival, which covered aspects such as basic life support and management of shock and burns. The cover is organised by charity Festival Medical Services (FMS), which organises volunteers to provide professional medical care for largescale events across the country.

Megan Roby, a fourth-year medicine student and one of the student volunteers, said: “Working at Reading Festival as a volunteer first responder was incredible since it offered a variety of authentic learning experiences in just five days.

“Alongside other medical students, I worked with a team of professionals including paramedics, nurses and doctors. The quantity of information, such as various radio-commands, protocols and site locations, was initially overwhelming as it could be required for quick recall at any time.

“After being on-the-go, responding to cases in multiple locations, listening to constant communications over a walkie-talkie and having to make snap decisions, like whether I should call an ambulance for a possible serious concussion, I was relieved that, on reflection, I acted in the best interests of the patients in a resource-limited environment whilst simultaneously managing crowds of intoxicated bystanders.

“The whole experience highlighted the need for teamwork, mutual trust, and a holistic approach when taking care of patients. Most attendees were teenagers who have never been to such a huge event before, so clear communication and empathy were crucial.

“Working as part of a festival medical team is full-on and exhausting, but it is extremely rewarding with the added perk of live music at the end of each shift!”

Before the pandemic, students from Exeter’s Truro campus volunteered at both Reading and Glastonbury festival annually as part of the Festival Medical Services (FMS) programme.

Professor Ian Fussell, Associate Dean of Education for the College of Medicine and Health and Senior Team Member of FMS, who led the student group, said “We’re delighted to contribute to the safety and enjoyment of the public at Reading Festival.

“It’s a wonderful experience for our students to volunteer for Festival Medical Services, but most importantly, this helps people to enjoy themselves in as Covid safe way as possible after the past difficult 18 months.” 

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 Professor Fussell.

Date: 6 September 2021

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