All part of mid­wife’s job

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - LOOKING BACK - Paula hee­lan

WHEN it comes to work­ing out­side the or­di­nary, Cairns­based Wendy Agars thinks a breech birth on a re­mote airstrip in the dead of night, fits the bill.

Af­ter train­ing in mid­wifery at the Ed­in­burgh Royal In­fir­mary in Scot­land, Wendy ac­cepted a job at Royal Dar­win Hos­pi­tal and shortly af­ter an­swered a call for mid­wives to work in East Arn­hem Land.

With sought af­ter mid­wifery skills and a pa­tient, na­ture, Wendy has worked in myr­iad out­back com­mu­ni­ties.

She’s now based in Cairns with the Royal Fly­ing Doc­tor Ser­vice (RFDS) as a flight nurse and mid­wife and also the Cairns Hos­pi­tal in ma­ter­nity.

Wendy re­calls the time she was tasked to pick up a man with a res­pi­ra­tory prob­lem in a re­mote com­mu­nity in the Gulf of Car­pen­taria. As she stepped down from the plane she made her way to­wards the beam­ing head­lights of two ve­hi­cles.

In a Troopy packed with peo­ple, a preg­nant woman was sit­ting in the front seat be­tween the re­mote-area nurse and a locum doc­tor. The

nurse asked Wendy if she could also fly the woman out, as she was con­cerned she had an in­fec­tion.

Wendy leaned in to greet both pa­tients. The young woman was sit­ting qui­etly and Wendy could see she was fright­ened.

“I no­ticed a few beads of sweat on her nose and I thought, uh-oh some­thing is go­ing on here. Then sud­denly she gave a big, in­vol­un­tary push.”

Wendy and the doc­tor helped the woman lie along the front seat and her mother cra­dled her head from the driver’s side. To her alarm, Wendy could see a tiny foot, fol­lowed by an­other.

“I thought, oh my God, here we are in this re­mote place, in the dead of night on the side of an airstrip with a pa­tient I wasn’t ex­pect­ing, about to give birth.

The baby was breech and there wasn’t enough time to get back to the health cen­tre.”

For the be­wil­dered young doc­tor from Syd­ney, the bush ex­pe­ri­ence was new. He stood by ready to as­sist. With trem­bling hands, Wendy set up the oxy­gen, suc­tion, bag-valve- mask and

drew up an in­jec­tion.

De­spite the breech pre­sen­ta­tion, the labour process went smoothly. “I re­mem­bered the golden rule – hands off the breech,” Wendy said. “I knew things could go aw­fully wrong and if they did, we would all have to deal with the sit­u­a­tion at hand. But to our de­light the baby gave a hearty cry and I don’t think there was a dry eye among us.”


Flight nurse and mid­wife, Wendy Agars, pic­tured at the RFDS Cairns base with pi­lot Ben Wilby

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