The Sunday Times

How a doc­tor al­most 300km away helped save baby Chloe


NOT know­ing if her sick baby was still con­scious and breath­ing in her back-seat cap­sule, the 25 min­utes it took to race her five-week-old daugh­ter Chloe to the near­est hos­pi­tal was the scari­est drive of Pip Good­ing’s life.

“I can re­mem­ber say­ing aloud, ‘Please God, don’t let any­thing hap­pen to our beau­ti­ful girl, we’ll do any­thing’,” the mother of two re­called of that aw­ful day in Fe­bru­ary when her daugh­ter, who had been strug­gling with a cough for a few days, went rapidly down­hill.

“And I just con­tin­ued to sing her nurs­ery rhymes, PlayS­chool and Wiggles songs just to make sure she was com­forted and could hear some­thing.”

With her baby in res­pi­ra­tory distress, Ms Good­ing had to stop twice on the way from the fam­ily farm near Kuk­erin in the Wheat­belt to Dum­b­leyung Hos­pi­tal 30km away, just to make sure Chloe was still breath­ing.

Chloe’s life-threat­en­ing emer­gency had a happy end­ing but there’s ev­ery chance she wouldn’t be here today with­out the Emer­gency Tele­health Ser­vice, a Perth-based video-con­fer­enc­ing ser­vice that pro­vides re­gional ar­eas with im­me­di­ate ex­pert ad­vice for emer­gen­cies.

The ETS en­abled a nurse at Dum­b­leyung to link up with Pe­ter Le­man, a pae­di­atric emer­gency spe­cial­ist based in Perth al­most 300km away. Dr Le­man was the ETS doc­tor on shift who quickly di­ag­nosed Chloe with bron­chi­oli­tis and guided the nurse to pro­vide emer­gency treat­ment and ad­min­is­ter cru­cial an­tibi­otics.

Ms Good­ing al­ready knew about the ETS and called Dum­b­leyung Hos­pi­tal in ad­vance of her ar­rival. A short time later, Chloe was sta­bilised and taken to Nar­ro­gin Hos­pi­tal where the Royal Fly­ing Doc­tor Ser­vice and a mem­ber of the New­born Emer­gency Trans­port Ser­vice were wait­ing to fly her to Princess Mar­garet Hos­pi­tal. She then spent 24 hours in in­ten­sive care and an­other two days in the re­cov­ery ward.

Dr Le­man said Chloe “could eas­ily have died” if she had not re­ceived the treat­ment she did at Dum­b­leyung.

“ETS was a vi­tal part of the chain of sur­vival,” he said. “The com­bined ser­vices of the ETS, lo­cal reg­is­tered nurse, vol­un­teer St John Am­bu­lance, Nar­ro­gin Hos­pi­tal team, RFDS and NETS pre­vented a po­ten­tially fa­tal event.”

Ms Good­ing said she dreaded to think what would have hap­pened if the ETS was not avail­able at Dum­b­leyung and she had to drive a fur­ther 70km to Nar­ro­gin.

“This could have been tragic, it just shows you how time crit­i­cal it is to be able to present to an emer­gency depart­ment to be able to get the best course of ac­tion,” she said.

She said Chloe, now five months old, re­turned to her nor­mal bub­bly and bright self in no time.

Last month, the State Gov­ern­ment an­nounced fund­ing for the ETS would con­tinue for two years.

Ev­ery week, ETS doc­tors con­duct about 300 con­sul­ta­tions at 76 sites across WA.

 ?? Pic­ture: Justin Ben­son-Cooper ?? Happy days: Pip Good­ing and her daugh­ter Chloe.
Pic­ture: Justin Ben­son-Cooper Happy days: Pip Good­ing and her daugh­ter Chloe.

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