ParamedicSimon Jemmett is a Clinical Educator in the Victorian Ambulance Service. He's responsible for educating paramedics, advanced life support and student paramedics. He also works as a mobile intensive care paramedic when required and is occasionally involved with the Monash School of Rural Medicine and other organisations.
What's been your experience of schoolies holidays?
I live on the Bass Coast on Phillip Island, so schoolies celebrations usually coincide with events like the V8 car races. The V8s create far bigger crowds than schoolies. Most schoolies simply have a good time and create a good atmosphere but inevitably we get called out to a few people who overdo it, and we frequently get an increase in car accidents due to the number of inexperienced drivers on the roads.
Did you go to schoolies when you left school?
It hadn't really become an event when I left school. Mostly, groups of friends got together and tried to find someone with an empty beach house! Most of my spare time was spent with friends on the Mornington Peninsula.
What's your advice for schoolies thinking of taking drugs when partying at schoolies?
Realistically, I know this will happen with some. Unfortunately, we always see the downside - true medical emergencies from the side-effects of the drugs. I simply can't say strongly enough to avoid drugs. There is no way of determining what's truly in them, and what your body's reaction will be.
You don't need drugs to have a good time. Inevitably people are severely injured, or brain damaged. Drugs are frequently taken by people simply because their peers are doing the same. Often the drug takers impact negatively on those around them who don't want to be involved.
What's your advice for schoolies thinking of drinking alcohol over the schoolies break?
It's very simple, look after each other, and look after yourself. Don't drink to get drunk - you will enjoy yourself less, not more! Also, venues will be likely to throw you out!
What's your advice for schoolies who suspect their drink or their friend's drink might have been spiked?
Whenever you're out it's important to keep an eye on your friends and look after them as well. If you think a drink has been spiked get to medical help soon, call 000 if you need to, and let the venue operators know. If someone is spiking drinks, the venue can deal with this through police assistance.
What's your advice for avoiding any violent incidents?
Much the same again - look out for each other. If you're feeling uncomfortable where you are, go somewhere else. At the same time, I know there will be a large number of police around to help.
What do you think is the biggest health risk for schoolies?
There are two: one is environmental - too much sun, not enough water to drink, then too much alcohol which further dehydrates you. The second is drinking to the point where you become drunk and ending up in the back of an ambulance!
Any final words?
Kick back, have a good time, look after your friends, respect other people around you.