All part of midwife’s job
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