P.A.R.T.Y Program empowers WA teens to make the right choices

A male doctor shows a treatment technique on a mannequin to high school student
September 17, 2021

As healthcare workers, particularly those in rehab services or trauma units, our staff often witness the outcomes of tragic accidents that could have been avoided with better decision making.

Whilst it’s too late to wind back the clock for those already impacted by life-changing trauma, there is an opportunity to educate future generations in hope that they think before taking that same level of risk.

The Prevent Alcohol and Risk-Related Trauma in Youth (P.A.R.T.Y) Program has been developed to raise awareness of the potential consequences of making poor choices amongst youth through a vivid and emotional experience.

Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) is proud to be a new partner of this program, delivering each month a full day educational session for students in years 10, 11 and 12 at selected high schools in the south metropolitan region.

FSH Clinical Educator and P.A.R.T.Y Program Coordinator, Carla Shepherd has played a pivotal part in the rollout of this initiative.

“This program has been introduced by people who work in trauma and are devastated by the number of patients, especially young people, impacted by preventable trauma. In 2020 alone, 856 trauma admissions in WA were from young people aged 15 to 24 years,” Carla said.

“We spend our time as healthcare professionals always being reactive to the cases that come in. We want to start being proactive and stopping these major accidents before they happen.”

The program has a focus on reality-based learning, taking the students on the journey of a trauma patient from the minute they are picked up by an ambulance to their time in rehabilitation.

The day is filled with interactive discussions with paramedics, doctors and nurses in the Emergency Department (ED) and Intensive Care Unit, followed by conversations with real-life trauma survivors and external organisations.

Staff cover topics such as the ripple effect; looking at how significant trauma impacts not only the individual, but their friends, families and all others involved. As well as encouraging discussions around alternatives to taking risks, like calling parents or taking an Uber instead of driving under the influence.

“We see a lot of students react quite emotionally to the conversations throughout the day,” Carla said.

“Despite this, overall, the program has a very positive focus, and all we ask is that the students walk away prepared to think things through if they ever find themselves in a situation that could potentially go very wrong. Every student we speak with could be one less who we see come through our ED doors, and to us, that is a huge achievement.”

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