The night I left my wife for Trevor: You can take the nurse out of Emergency but you can’t take Emergency out of the nurse

Mr Gavin O’Brien1

1Top End Health Service, Darwin, Australia

Originally a psychiatric trained nurse Gavin saw the development and implementation of PECC units into  realms of the ED, worked in Adult and adolescent acute psychiatric wards , and also did a stint in Intesive Care Psych. Then he  saw the Dark side and joined Emergency Nursing. Having worked for 8 years in NSW Health and Top End Health Services  across all clinical areas of ED Gavin developed a passion for trauma and disaster. In his current position Gavin has found he needs to pinch himself every morning to realise that he is not dreaming. He has recently joined the education Team at the National Critical Care & Trauma Response Centre (NCCTRC) which he holds the portfolio of MIMMS and HMIMMS. He co ordinates courses across the Top End and is part of a Regional Engagement Program supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs which engages countries around the Pacific and South East Asia to develop infrastructure around disaster management.

He has also gone back to uni for the 4th time.

Cyclone Trevor was declared a State of Emergency by the Territory Government as the large storm cell was to make landfall as a Category 4 Sever Tropical Cyclone approximately 100km South East of Macarthur River. A combination of severity and the threat of the storm alongside its complications associated with remoteness led the Chief Ministers decision to evacuate the affected areas. To paint a picture one has to appreciate the geo and demographical factors that come into play. The NT covers nearly 1.35 million Km² accounting for the 3rd largest block of land in the country and 11th largest country subdivision in the world with a population of only 246 700. Not only was it the largest evacuation pre cyclone but the second largest evacuation in the countries history secondary to Cyclone Tracy with over two thousand people evacuated from Groote Eylandt, Borroloola, and surrounds to evacuation centres in Katherine and Darwin.

What is ones role in the eye of the storm?

The following presentation will deliver a summary of events through the eyes of Emergency Nurse deployed as a response to a State of Emergency. To be taken out of the comforts and familiarity of the Emergency Department (even though some days it can be somewhat a resemblance of a cyclone) challenges the thought process of what do I need as a clinician to work safely and effectively outside of my comfort zone. The author will highlight some of the key principles and concepts of disaster preparedness and management and the role of health and how it aligns itself with multiple agencies.


Gavin has a varied and colourful nursing background.He was steered to the health care profession by his mum (also a nurse with 40 ish years experience) who said he can get a job, study…or get out!!! So he studied.