12th October 2017 is the 50th Anniversary of the inaugural meeting of the Casualty Surgeons Association (CSA). Up to that time services provided in Casualty Departments in the UK and Ireland were typically staffed by very experienced nursing staff but generally inexperienced doctors at an early stage of their training. Indeed the term Casualty Department reflects the historical reality that these departments were for ‘casual attenders’. As a result of the initiative those relatively few senior doctors working in these departments began the process of revolutionising the care provided in what are now known as Emergency Departments (EDs). What started as the CSA has changed title, but not aspiration, through the decades to become the Royal College of Emergency Medicine. The forefathers of our specialty of Emergency Medicine recognised that acutely unwell or injured patients deserved the services of experienced doctors trained to deal with undifferentiated medical presentations, with the capability to resuscitate and stabilise the ill and injured of any age group, with any type of emergency. Up to this point the preoccupation of hospital services and existing medical specialties was the delivery of scheduled care and the care of patients admitted to a hospital bed rather than those attending with unscheduled care needs.
The development of Emergency Medicine in Ireland has closely mirrored our UK neighbour and the same milestones have occurred on our journey. The creation of well-respected national training schemes; the development of a postgraduate examination structure; the creation of over 80 Consultant posts and the recruitment of many of the best and brightest of graduating medical classes into Emergency Medicine has resulted in extraordinary progress in the development of Emergency Medicine in Ireland. While, in the eyes of many, EDs are associated with crowding and patients on trolleys, it is well-established that the causes of these problems are outside of the Emergency Department and their solution requires a significant investment in bed capacity by the Department of Health and HSE. Notwithstanding these significant challenges, the quality of care provided in Ireland’s EDs has improved significantly during recent decades and Ireland “punches above its weight” in Emergency Medicine internationally.
The Association intends to mark this important event by joining in the simultaneous illumination of famous landmarks in Belfast, London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Australia, India (and even Antarctica), by illuminating three famous Dublin landmarks in the RCEM Colours. City Hall, the Mansion House and the Civic Offices, Wood Quay, will be illuminated on the evening of Thursday, 12th October, emphasising the growing international reach, collegiality and community of Emergency Medicine practitioners, united in developing and providing the best possible care to (and advocating for the needs of) people/patients stricken with sudden serious illness or injury.
Dr. Emily O’Conor, President of the Association, will join colleagues at the City Hall, Dublin event at 19.15 hrs on Thursday 12th October 2017 to mark this important occasion. The development of the specialty of Emergency Medicine has greatly benefitted millions of Irish patients over the last half century and it is appropriate that this important date is marked in Ireland.