We finally have a Royal Flying Doctor Service medical chest for our remote exploration camps, so we headed to their Perth offices to learn whats in it, and the procedures involved in using it. Its got lots of basic equipment, prescription drugs and some very hardcore drugs (adrenaline, morphine etc etc)
For those that have never really heard of the RFDS, its basically what it says on the tin! It was the idea of the Rev John Flynn, a minister with the Presbyterian Church. He witnessed the daily struggle of pioneers living in remote areas where just two doctors provided the only medical care for an area of almost 2 million square kilometres. Flynn’s vision was to provide a ‘mantle of safety’ for these people and on 15 May 1928, the Australian Inland Mission Aerial Medical Service (later renamed the Royal Flying Doctor Service) came into service in Cloncurry, Queensland.
It spread throughout Australia, and in 1936 the first services in WA officially started up, working out of Port Hedland. Some planes were working in the Goldfields area prior to that, but not as an organised service. They provide healthcare advice over the phone (and still sometime over long distance radio, but that is being phased out) to people who can't get to a doctor in any kind of reasonable time frame, and provide emergency evacuation when needed.
The RFDS now operates 53 aircraft out of 21 locations across the country, and are a lifeline to people living and working in the remote heart of the country.
So what does the chest mean to us?
Well, in theory, we're moving our camp about 4 hours drive away from site, which means we're about 8 hours drive from Port Hedland and probably about 4-5 hours from Newman. You don't want anything to go wrong when you're that far from help. So now, if something does go wrong (broken leg, dislocated shoulder, general unknown illness, car crash, snake bite, even just a bad headache) we can ring up and get a doctor to assess the situation, prescribe drugs to relieve the symptoms and let us know if we need to get them out in a hurry or when we can or if they're going to come and get us.
And everything in the chest is numbered as well as named, so theres no worry about not being able to figure out some random chemical name- "Give him 2 tablets of garble garble-adine, its number 32 and it will be in try B". A very good idea in a stressful situation!
Which means I'm much happier about being responsible for a big bad drill rig and a heard of people in such a random location.
Lets just hope we don't have to use it!