LRH teaches teens how to party safely

About 25 Foster Secondary College year 11 students experienced the first-hand reality of trauma related death and injury in a simulated environment at South Gippsland Hospital.

The Prevent Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth, or PARTY, is a one-day program run by Latrobe Regional Health (LRH) and was held in Foster as part of a rural outreach initiative.

The program gave students a blunt and no-holds barred account of trauma and often preventable risk-taking behaviours.

It included the consequences of drink driving, not wearing seatbelts, unsafe partying, fighting, and even ‘death by selfies’.

Students spent the day learning about the emergency department, intensive care and rehabilitation units and hearing from a range of emergency and health workers.

Teens also heard heartbreaking personal accounts from trauma survivors and the impact on their families and communities.

LRH Emergency Department Associate Unit Manager and PARTY co-coordinator Andrew Simmons said the program did not “sugar coat anything”.

“Some kids leave in tears. We are not saying don’t go out and have fun, but learn how to make safe choices,” he said.

“We simulate what it’s like arriving in an ambulance, kids get to cut the clothes off a mannequin. They learn what it means to be sedated or paralysed.

“They learn about inserting tubes and lines, or pelvic slings to stop internal bleeding. In ICU we show them how a patient is fed or toileted while on life support.”

Foster Secondary College Principal Dean Duursma said public transport was limited in regional areas and teens could be faced with the dilemma of getting into a vehicle driven by someone under the influence.

“We know that young people can be inclined to take risks, and it is an invaluable opportunity to take part in this program with a hands-on approach within the clinical setting,” Mr Duursma said.

“Having the chance to talk to local police, hear real life stories and physically see health professionals demonstrate invasive treatment could be life changing for these students.”

South Gippsland Hospital Director of Nursing Claire Kent said PARTY was building upon strong partnerships with the school and regional health services such as LRH.

“This program is all about giving kids reassurance that they are being supported in the community,” she said.

“It can be confronting for them, but staff are available for students to have a break and a chat if they feel overwhelmed.”

PARTY was developed at a large trauma hospital in Canada in the late 1980s and is now licensed in 100 countries. It is run in all Australian states and territories.

Surveys provided to Latrobe Valley students before and after they took part in the program indicate a shift in attitudes towards risk-taking behaviour and activities that are considered dangerous.

More Latrobe Valley-based schools are being invited to book a place in the program. Sponsorship from Loy Yang B Power Station enables PARTY to be delivered free of charge.

For more information, or to book your school group email Janet May at or call 5173 8542.