After such a long period of events being cancelled or alternatively in online format, it was wonderful to welcome delegates to the 2021 East Surrey Regional Anaesthesia Course. This was the first course able to be run in the UK for regional anaesthesia since the beginning of the pandemic. The last East Surrey Regional Anaesthesia course had been run in February 2020 just before the first lockdown. Organising an event of this magnitude, fraught with the complications of an ongoing global pandemic, was challenging but ultimately very rewarding.
COVID-safety was at the forefront of the organisation of this event. National guidelines were implemented; masks were mandatory and hand sanitising stations set up. Due to the restrictions at the time we were only able to welcome delegates from across the UK. We will, however, look forward to when we are able to once again invite delegates from around the world. As clinical practitioners all the delegates were dual vaccinated. Model volunteers were theatre staff and anaesthetic trainees and as such were also double vaccinated.
«COVID-safety was at the forefront of the organisation of this event.»
Day one was focused on anatomy with an exploration of pro-sections under expert guidance at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Days two and three were hosted at the Holiday Inn hotel in Gatwick, with ultrasound demonstrations on models. We were also able to provide live demonstrations of blocks from theatres streamed on a secure server. The hotel and medical school had also implemented their own COVID-safe working guidelines which were strictly adhered to. Learning was in small groups accompanied by demonstration by those expert in regional anaesthesia to illustrate learning points and hints and tips for optimal success. One modification that was made was as an alternative to the simulation sessions usually on offer; these sessions were pre-recorded and presented to delegates on individual memory sticks. This cut down the interaction and potential exposure to COVID-19 that may have been facilitated with the use of a limited amount of equipment. Ideally once it is feasible to we would like to use interactive simulation as a teaching tool once again, as this is a method of teaching proven to be very effective. This was a good alternative to utilise in the circumstances.
Despite the anxieties around returning to a face to face practical course the feedback received was outstanding. It was clear that delegates very much enjoyed the hands-on learning, something that is not easily replaced by online or distance learning. In addition, as the cadaver workshop is a mandatory element of the EDRA examination we were pleased to be able to offer this once again. In summary, despite obstacles the running of this course in its current format was able to minimise risk whilst maximising learning, networking and enjoyment.
Many thanks to all faculty and volunteers who worked hard to make this event a great success.
From left to right: Dr. Wolmarans, Dr. D B-St.Laurent & Dr. Krol teaching and performing blocks.
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