Surgeons play leading roles in treating the health impacts of disasters such as the major bushfires which occurred during 2019-20; the ‘black summer’. In the immediate aftermath of such fires, specialty trained burn surgeons (plastic, paediatric and general) are key in the treatment of major burns. All surgeons trained and involved in Trauma are involved in the immediate management of injured firefighters and the public, as a result of traffic and other accidents in poor visibility due to smoke. Our trainees are often the first point of contact between patient and surgical service for initial triage, assessment and management.
Frontline health workers are subject to extraordinary physical, psychological and professional demands during emergency responses to natural disasters and other mass casualty events. Our surgeons exist in this space. Formal support structures are essential for disaster preparedness. An effective and holistic strategy is needed to ensure workforce sustainability and protection of staff at risk of immediate and long-term effects of exposures including infectious diseases, severe trauma and system capacity overload.