Doc­tor jets in to res­cue

Pilbara News - - News - Court­ney Fowler

Tom Price res­i­dent Robyn Street has worked as a vol­un­teer fire­fighter and am­bu­lance of­fi­cer over the years, of­ten as­sist­ing pa­tients on to Royal Fly­ing Doc­tor Ser­vice air­craft — but never thought she would one day be at the other end of the stretcher.

Robyn and her hus­band Grant were in Kar­ratha for a long week­end away, when she sud­denly suf­fered se­vere chest pains in the mid­dle of the night.

Robyn said it was at this mo­ment she knew she was in se­ri­ous trou­ble.

“I went straight to Nickol Bay Hos­pi­tal in Kar­ratha where med­i­cal tests re­vealed that the chem­i­cal level in my blood was in­creas­ing, in­di­cat­ing a heart at­tack and my sit­u­a­tion could de­te­ri­o­rate,” she said.

“It was at this stage med­i­cal staff called the fly­ing doc­tor.”

The RFDS Rio Tinto Life Flight jet was tasked to re­trieve Robyn from Kar­ratha and the med­i­cal crew, in­clud­ing a fully trained doc­tor and nurse, be­gan treat­ing her as soon as she was on board the air­craft.

Robyn de­scribed her ex­pe­ri­ence as be­ing in a “fly­ing in­ten­sive care unit”.

“I was looked af­ter by a highly skilled doc­tor and nurse, who were both qual­i­fied emer­gency ser­vices spe­cial­ists,” she said.

“Then be­fore I knew it, I was in Perth in about an hour and a half and af­ter al­ready re­ceiv­ing vi­tal treat­ment, was trans­ferred to hos­pi­tal.”

The Rio Tinto Life Flight Jet helps the RFDS pro­vide ex­ten­sive 24-hour es­sen­tial health care ser­vices to any­one who lives, works and trav­els through­out WA.

RFDS chief ex­ec­u­tive Gra­hame Mar­shall said the Rio Tinto Life Flight jet had made a tremen­dous dif­fer­ence to the fly­ing doc­tor’s abil­ity to re­spond to the needs of ru­ral, re­gional and re­mote WA.

“Since the Rio Tinto Life Flight jet’s first mis­sion in Oc­to­ber 2009, the air­craft has evac­u­ated al­most 1500 pa­tients, the ma­jor­ity (over 70 per cent) from the more dis­tant Kim­ber­ley and Pil­bara re­gions,” he said.

“Many lives have been saved as a di­rect re­sult of the Rio Tinto Life Flight.”

He said there was also a huge amount of plan­ning and ex­per­tise in­volved in en­sur­ing that pa­tients like Robyn re­ceive the treat­ment they need.

“About one in five pa­tients trans­ported by RFDS in WA have un­der­ly­ing heart dis­ease, and if not treated quickly by spe­cial­ists, their sit­u­a­tion can rapidly worsen,” he said.

“In Robyn’s case, the staff in our 24-hour Statewide co-or­di­na­tion cen­tre were work­ing closely with the med­i­cal and flight crew plan­ning to re­trieve her from Kar­ratha, en­sur­ing they had all of the nec­es­sary med­i­cal equip­ment and sup­plies on board to en­sure her crit­i­cal care ev­ery step of the way.”

Robyn has now made a full re­cov­ery.

This year marks the 80-year an­niver­sary of the RFDS de­liv­er­ing life-sav­ing out­comes to peo­ple in WA.

To do­nate to the RFDS, call 9417 6400 or email

Pic­ture: Mark Grif­fin, Jacaranda Pho­tog­ra­phy

Robyn Street has made a full re­cov­ery since the RFDS Rio Tinto Life Flight jet re­trieved her.

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