Background: In February 2009, bushfires devastated the state of Victoria, Australia, resulting in the loss of property and life - this event was named 'Black Saturday'. Pre, during and post the impact of this event, health care professionals, such as nursing members of St John Ambulance Australia, provided clinical care in the pre-hospital environment. There is a paucity of literature regarding the clinical and disaster background, education and preparedness of those health care professionals who assist in similar emergencies, as such the characteristics of responders are not well understood. Method: This research used a retrospective descriptive postal survey design, to survey nursing members of St John Ambulance Australia regarding their nursing experience; pre-hospital experience; disaster education, training and experience; and their role during the response to the 2009 Victorian bushfires. Results: A total of 53 nurses were approached for inclusion in this research, of which 24 (45%) voluntarily participated. Males represented 46% and females represented 54% of participants. Participants had more combined years of nursing experience in the medical and surgical environments, then other areas of practice. Post-graduate critical care nursing was the primary area of completed post-graduate education. The previous disaster experience of participants was principally related to bushfire emergency response. Most participants had undertaken disaster related education, however this varied in type and duration. Similarly, most had participated in training or mock disasters; however this was commonly not related to bushfire emergencies.
- Emergency response
- Medical response