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Bali Bombings Helped Improve Trauma Care

The Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing in a recent report, says that health specialists were able to offer better mental health support to the victims of the 2005 Bali bombings, thanks to improved procedures and services introduced after the first explosions in 2002.

Staff at the Royal Darwin Hospital who treated many of the casualties was also recipients of vital personal support from mental health nurses.

Says Anthony Guscott from Top End Mental Health Services, which provides in-patient and consultation liaison nursing services at the Royal Darwin Hospital:"The 2002 bombings were Australia's first large-scale introduction to terrorist activity and they initiated a new phase of trauma response for public health services.

"A national mental health response to mass trauma was established and this proved particularly useful to the Royal Darwin Hospital, which handled a large number of casualties from both bombings."

Another traumatic incident that lent help to the national group driving the national mental health guidance, was the Eyre Peninsula bushfires that killed nine people and injured 110 in South Australia in January 2005.

The Royal Darwin Hospital has now a round-the-clock mental health presence in the emergency department, and other departments can call on out-of-hours' support as needed.

It was observed that many of the bomb victims suffered profound mental health problems immediately after the bombings. In 2002 the mental health response was poorly planned, but the lessons learnt from the first incident meant that in 2005 patients' physical and mental health needs were better co-ordinated by staff who had already recognized and established a stronger link between trauma and psychiatric support.

The 2002 bombs, killed just over 200 people including 88 Australians, and hundreds more suffered burns and other injuries. Many of the victims injured in the suicide bombing
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