In summary

  • Swinburne nursing students and alumni have gone above and beyond in the community

  • Second-year student Lily Bevan was a first responder at an early morning motorbike accident

  • Nursing alumni Alex Smith and Tessa Bourke, showcased their skills in a dramatic real-world emergency, just hours after their graduation

Swinburne nursing student’s heroic response at accident scene

In an unexpected twist to her routine commute, Lily Bevan, a second-year nursing student at Swinburne, became a first responder at the scene of a serious motorbike accident. The incident occurred on in April while Lily was driving home after an early shift at a nearby aged care facility.

Encountering a traumatic scene along a winding road involving three motorcyclists, Lily found one middle-aged man severely injured. The victim had suffered significant traumatic injuries to his lower body, including a distressing injury to his calf. His two friends, visibly frantic and upset, were at his side.

“I guess it's assumed he came around the corner a bit too quick. It was a pretty bad wound,” Lily recalled, describing the urgency of the situation.

With no other help immediately available, Lily leveraged her training and quickly retrieved her nurse's kit from her car. She assumed control of the scene, providing both critical first aid and a calming influence amidst the chaos.

Quick thinking and training in action

Her efforts focused on advanced wound management and haemorrhage control, crucial in the minutes before the arrival of emergency services. 

“Basic wound management, hygiene, keeping debris out of the wound—there were heaps of flies that day, which required a bit of swashing action,” she described, emphasising the challenges posed by the environment.

Lily's presence brought stability not only to the injured rider but also to his friends as the situation unfolded. She calmly managed the scene until paramedics from Ambulance Victoria arrived approximately 15 minutes later. Working alongside a solo paramedic initially, and later with a larger team, Lily's competence and calm were so pronounced that she was mistaken for a seasoned professional - not a second-year nursing student yet to do a placement. 

Bond, one of the paramedics at the scene, praised Lily's composure and effectiveness in providing lifesaving first aid. 

“She was able to stay calm and also have that effect on everybody else around her. It made the whole job a lot easier,” he said. 

"Everything ran very smoothly, which is rare as jobs like these often see people blustering around."

He further acknowledged Lily’s profound impact on the patient, even teaching him how to use ‘the green whistle’ for pain management.

"She clearly made a significant impact on the patient’s life, which is immeasurable."

Recognition for stepping up in a crisis 

The attending team from Ambulance Victoria was so impressed that they communicated their commendation back to Swinburne, praising her exemplary actions.

Lily’s dedication and swift action have been formally recognised with a special commendation from Distinguished Professor James Ogloff AM, Dean of the School of Health Sciences.  

This real-world application of her skills has only fuelled her ambition to pursue a career in emergency nursing.

“ED is the dream. I like a fast-paced environment. I think working under pressure is something I can do that others might not be able to, so I'd prefer to go into that field,” Lily shared, reflecting on the incident as a valuable learning experience.

“It's a good learning curve as well. I literally got in the car after and called one of my friends and was like, Guess what I just got to do?!” 

Her unexpected roadside assistance not only underscores the critical importance of first responders but also highlights the vital skills being taught in quality nursing education.

For Lily, it was an extraordinary day that affirmed her career choice, demonstrating her readiness to face the challenges of emergency medical care.

Swinburne nursing graduates leap into action at celebration lunch 

This isn’t the first time this month Swinburne nurses have saved the day. 

Fresh from their graduation ceremony in April, two Swinburne nursing diploma graduates, Alex Smith and Tessa Bourke, showcased their skills in a dramatic real-world emergency. The incident unfolded at a local restaurant where the duo, along with Tessa’s mother Kelly, also a nurse, sprang into action to assist a man experiencing a medical crisis.

During a celebratory lunch post-graduation, a sudden commotion drew the attention of the newly-minted nurses.  

"We all jumped up and saw a poor man lying on his back, really pale. We just went into nursing mode," said Alexandra. 

The man, identified as Paul, was dining with his son, a fellow Swinburne graduate, and his daughter-in-law when he suddenly felt unwell and slumped forward.

Using their training, Alex and Tessa quickly assessed the situation. 

"We put his feet up and were trying to find a pulse. It took a moment, but eventually, I found one on his foot," Alex said.

"He started getting his colour back because his blood pressure had dropped, so by putting his feet up it helped. We were trying to assess if he was having another heart attack. He didn't think so, but we were being extra cautious."

Effective teamwork and professional handover

The graduates stayed with Paul, comforting and monitoring him until the paramedics arrived. They provided a detailed handover, including his medical history, which facilitated his care. By the time the ambulance team took over, Paul’s heart rate had stabilised and he was much improved.

Abbey, Paul's daughter-in-law, recounted the tense moments to Jacqui Felgate on 3AW. 

"Just as lunch was arriving, my father-in-law's eyes rolled back, and he slumped forward... he's got a history of heart issues, so we weren't sure what was going on and obviously went into a bit of a panic," she said. 

"I turned back around and suddenly, there were four women standing over him, offering to help. Two were grads from the ceremony we'd just left."

“We were just really lucky that we were in the right place at the right time to have some extra help."

A promising start to nursing careers

The incident demonstrates the readiness of Alex and Tessa to begin their professional careers. Alexandra is set to work as an aged care nurse and Tessa will start as a theatre nurse at Knox Private.

This episode is a testament to the preparedness that Swinburne instils in its students, demonstrating the real-world impact of their education. As they step into their new roles, these graduates have already proven their ability to handle critical situations, a skill they will carry forward into their promising nursing careers.

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