Are we ready for this?
Can Australia cope with a mass casualty evacuation in the wake of a terrorist attack or natural disaster?
The country's top military medical and civilian experts recently took part in Australia's first Aeromedical Evacuation Think Tank at the University of Adelaide.
Designed to identify key strategies for major national disasters, the workshop brought together domestic and international experts from the Defence Forces, government, and civilian aeromedical evacuation providers.
The Head of the University of Adelaide's Centre for Military Veterans Health, Professor Sandy McFarlane, said the current global instability demanded a national approach to "significant disasters".
"The Bali bombings in 2002 showed us that we need an integrated approach between the military and civilian organisations. We need to be better aligned and improve our communication strategies," Professor McFarlane said.
"Australia is in a unique position due to the large continental land mass and major distances between cities. With a significant number of our citizens travelling overseas, and in the light of the risk of major emergencies, we need to ensure our aeromedical evacuation capabilities are first class."
The workshop explored case studies such as the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people and injured more than 300, resulting in Australia's largest peacetime aeromedical evacuation.
Responses to other mass casualty incidents, including the 2005 Bali bombings and 2004 Bundaberg tilt train crash, were also analysed.
Lieutenant Colonel Marc Robins from the United States Air Force and Colonel Jim Stewart discussed lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005.
Workshop participants included Air Vice Marshal Tony Austin AM (Head of the Defence Health Services Division) and Mr Tony Pearce (Director General Emergency Management Australia).
Story by Candy Gibson