Preventative programs, across a range of medical areas, is a major priority for RBWH patient care. Among the range of initiatives supported is the acclaimed P.A.R.T.Y. program for young people.

P.A.R.T.Y. is the acronym for the Prevent Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth, a statewide program run out of RBWH for the past decade thanks to the financial generosity and partnership of AAMI (Suncorp) and The Department of Transport and Main Roads.

“The aim is to reduce trauma injuries, disability and death in young people as this age group are grossly over-represented in injury and trauma statistics,” explained Andrew Mahon from the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

“By learning about the consequences of risk-taking behaviour the program enables participants to recognise potential injury-producing situations, make prevention-orientated choices and adopt behaviours that minimise unnecessary risk.”

The award-winning program was created in Canada in 1986 for high school students aged 15-19 years old. Death from traumatic injury is the leading cause of death for people under the age of 45 in Australia and P.A.R.T.Y. works year-round to help reduce that frightening statistic.

More than 18,000 Queensland students have been through the confronting program. Last year more than 42 schools participated and the waiting list keeps growing.
“A lot of kids think that the worst thing that can happen to you in an accident is that you can die,” said P.A.R.T.Y. Program Support Officer Roisin O’Neill.

“But our program is all about surviving and living with the injuries. That’s when the message really begins to hit home - learning how to live with a ‘new normal’ following spinal injuries or brain injuries, and how it will affect your family and friends.”

Before COVID-19, students would spend a full day at RBWH where they were shown the journey of a trauma patient through the hospital’s Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit, Trauma Ward and Allied Health Services.

When social distancing restricted hospital attendance, P.A.R.T.Y. took the program to the schools instead. The students not only meet staff, but also a former patient who has experienced trauma and survived, often with significant disabilities. The survivor speaks to the students about what decisions and actions caused their injuries and what their life is like now.

RBWH is the largest multi-site provider of P.A.R.T.Y. internationally and conducts the program at most major regional centres across Queensland.

“We do a lot of patient simulations. Our emergency staff get dressed up in moulage and fake blood. They go all out. We tell every student every single time before we begin that it’s just a simulation but many of them forget along the way. It’s very realistic,” said Ms O’Neill.