City’s doc­tors re­turn home af­ter duty in disas­ter zones

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today - Emma Kennedy Photo: FIONA HARD­ING

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

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