City’s doctors return home after duty in disaster zones
FOUR Townsville-based doctors returned home recently after almost three months amid the wreckage and rubble of recent natural disasters.
Townsville Hospital doctors Peter Aitken, Mark Elcock, Brett Hoggard and Michael Corkeron travelled between Townsville, Emerald, Gladstone and Christchurch helping victims of the floods, cyclone and earthquake.
Retrieval Services Queensland’s state medical director Dr Elcock said the four were a part of the clinical co-ordination of aero-medical retrievals across the state.
‘‘ Roads were out of action across the state so moving patients by air was the only option in many cases,’’ he said.
With the Rockhampton Airport closed and fixed-wing ambulances unable to land, Queensland Health and the Queensland Ambulance Service set up an inflatable tactical medical facility at Gladstone.
‘ ‘ Gladstone was the nearest airport to Rockhampton so emergency medical helicopters were used t o bridge patients between smaller hospitals in central Queensland to this medical facility, to be cared for on site and then retrieved by fixed wing to Brisbane,’’ Dr Elcock said.
Dr Aitken, a disaster response expert, was stationed in flood-torn Emerald for the first week of the year and noted the sentiment of the locals.
‘‘ It was the best part of a week before the sicker patients who had been flown out to other hospitals could be repatriated back to Emerald,’’ he said. ‘‘ The residents were stoic.’’
Dr Corkeron, an intensive care specialist, was based in Brisbane during the floods working on a eromedical co-ordination and the evacuation of the Emerald Hospital. Across the ocean , emergency staff specialist Dr Hoggard spent 12 days in Christchurch dividing his time bet ween t he hospital’s emergency department and a community health hub in the city’s east.
HELPING: Townsville Hospital medicos Dr Brett Hoggard, Dr Mark Elcock, Dr Michael Corkeron and Dr Peter Aitken are back after three months of disaster relief work