One of the biggest concerns living so far from civilization is injury or illness. This is escalated when you have 3 young children and many things that could injure or harm them. Will a snake bite them? Will they fall from their horse? Fevers, sickness and upset tummy’s.
If we lived in town we could just pop up to the local hospital (and probably sit there for 4 hours). But out here even the smallest things worry you.
Last night it was a Jackaroo on my doorstep at 7pm who wasn’t feeling well. Now I am here to tell you that I am certainly not Nurse material, so this kind of thing is way out of my comfort zone. What am I supposed to do? I am not a nurse or a doctor. Finally after 10 years I have learned to just call the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS). Doesn’t matter what it is. If there is a jackaroo with a sore finger I will call the doctor because, quite frankly, it is out of my jurisdiction. I can’t judge if it is serious or not, nor do I want to. The one thing I can’t handle is cuts – open cuts and blood, I can’t even look at it, but I somehow have to deal with it. My bedside manner is not the best but I get there in the end.
We have a fully stocked RFDS kit. It has nearly everything you could possibly need to help with illness and injury. Antibiotics, morphine, panadol, ear drops, eye drops right down to nasal spray & bandages etc. This is one of the upsides to living out here. If we are feeling a little crook, we can just phone the doctor and he will prescribe some anibiotics, or just reassure us that it isn’t that serious and we should be fine. It sure does beat sitting in a Doctors Surgery & waiting for 2 hours.
Last night the doctor decided to evacuate the patient in case the upset tummy was something more serious. The plane was in the air within about 40 minutes heading our way. They don’t muck around. A few blokes ensure that our portable lights are working so we can light up the strip. These are basically little torches that run on 6v batteries. They need to be placed at 100m intervals on either side of the strip with green lights at either end.
There is nothing quite like the adrenaline of a night time evacuation. That Beechcraft King Air decends upon the dusty airstrip like it is on a stealth mission. If you didn’t know it was coming you wouldn’t hear it until it had just landed. Down on the air strip the ute and blokes are driving up turning on the lights. Then the eagle lands. Hmmmm that sound, the roar of the engine, there is nothing like it. It gives me goosebumps. And the sweet smell of Jet A-1. Oh yeah. God I sound like an aviation junkie, but let me tell you it smells a whole lot better than Avgas!
Don’t get me wrong, among all this adrenaline is worry. Worry for the patient you are evacuating. Hoping they will be ok and wondering how the hell you will get them back once they are discharged. It is just such a great feeling to know that professional help has arrived.
I am always astounded at the promptness of the RFDS. We are so fortunate that we can rely upon them. Within about 5 minutes of landing and loading up the patient they were getting ready to take off again. We said our hello’s and goodbye’s and waved them off again. Done, all within a matter of minutes.
Each month we also have a doctor and nurse visit the station. They fly from Alice Springs and visit each Barkly station. This is really handy for prescriptions, sick staff and general concerns. We are so fortunate to have these services that we can rely upon.