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No such thing as a holiday for the Doctor

Monday, 10th January, 2011

The RFDS had a day off at Christmas but then the floodgates opened The RFDS had a day off at Christmas but then the floodgates opened

The local Flying Doctor Base had a quiet Christmas Day, and it was just as well because after that they were flat out.

Its doctors, nurses and pilots tended to almost 30 patients between Boxing Day and New Year.

The RFDS’s General Manager of Health Services, Dr Anne Wakatama, said that on Christmas Day; “We didn’t have to send a plane out at all.”

But then there were 27 call-outs before New Years. “There were a range of things ... illnesses, injuries, the number of fractures we had to fly out, various heart problems, people with asthma,” said Dr Wakatama.

“People who live in this region are always grateful (for the RFDS) and people who come from elsewhere are surprised by the treatment given.”

Dr Wakatama said the incidents were no different to what the Flying Doctor deals with every day. 

“We had a number of car crashes, motorbikes crashes, someone had fallen off a horse ... these are the usual things we deal with. They are the same sorts of things we deal with day-to-day,” Dr Wakatama said.

“Everyone is well aware of the 24-hour coverage. We only have one emergency plane and crew at one time. People in isolated areas are our priority.”

She also said that it was good to see that Christmas was quiet because it meant people were taking care and being responsible.

“We are pleased we had a quiet Christmas as very frequently the aircraft has to go out,” she said. “Christmas day was better than average but 27 patients is a fair few to move.”

Patients from Orange, Wilcannia, Moomba, Louth, Tibooburra and Ivanhoe were among some of the unlucky people spending their holidays in hospital. Several of them were had car, bike and horse accidents.

The Dubbo Base was also busy with 17 patients from locations such as Ealgett, Brewarrina and Lightning Ridge but they also had the more pleasant task of repatriating several patients to their home towns just in time to enjoy Christmas lunch with loved ones.

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