Victorians will be better prepared should another thunderstorm asthma event occur, with the launch of a new campaign from the state government.
The thunderstorm asthma campaign was developed following the devastating 2016 incident in which nine people died and subsequent inquiry.
The new campaign – on the Better Health Channel website – contains videos and information on what thunderstorm asthma is, how to protect yourself and be prepared, dates for community education sessions and how to give asthma first aid to another person.
The Victorian Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy said they want to make sure everyone is protected during pollen season by providing the right information Victorians need to stay safe and healthy.
“We’re doing everything we can to make sure that if thunderstorm asthma happens again, we’ll be as ready as we can be.
“People with asthma should ensure their asthma plan is up to date and they carry their medication with them at all times. Don’t risk it this pollen season,” said Ms Hennessy.
In addition to the awareness campaign, the State Government will also provide new training for general practitioners, pharmacists and nurses on how to better prepare for, treat and manage people affected by thunderstorm asthma.
During the 2016 thunderstorm asthma event Melbourne private hospitals played a significant role in treating patients. There were an additional 231 presentations, 210 of which were attributed to respiratory illness.
At the time Healthscope hospitals treated close to 250 patients in the acute phase of the crisis – nearly 50 were identified as caused by thunderstorm asthma.
The Knox Private Hospital and John Fawkner Private Hospital’s Emergency Departments worked hand in hand with the Victorian Emergency Services and Department of Health to treat all patients affected, even opening areas adjacent to the emergency departments to cope with the additional workload.
Epworth HealthCare also reported 48 asthma related illnesses, up from their usual one to two per day for that period.
The Victorian Government is also partnering with the Bureau of Meteorology to develop a new thunderstorm asthma forecasting system, along with expanded pollen monitoring networks.
This forecasting system will be ready for pollen season, which begins in October through to the end of December.
For more information on the thunderstorm asthma campaign visit the Better Health Channel.