Life as an emergency retrieval doctor – and retrieved patient – in the outback

Dr Tim Duncan1

1Aeromedical Retrieval Specialist, RFDS Queensland

Doctors and nurses have the remarkable privilege of sometimes providing the gift of life.  It is the reason many of us get into health care, and it’s often what makes a career in these fields most worthwhile.  For others it takes a crisis, a first hand encounter with the healing power of our professions.  For me, coming face to face with death in the middle of nowhere was when this fundamental motivation resonated.  As emergency and remote medicine saved me, it was clear taking this career path myself would both allow me to make the most difference I could, and give my second chance at life the most meaning.  It also gave an important perspective, that of a patient.

Prior to this, as a somewhat disillusioned junior doctor with minimal career direction, the metropolitan hospital system had been fun but ultimately lacked meaning.  I didn’t feel part of a community, nor was there a specialist training pathway I was passionate about.  For this reason I left medicine and took up a position as a film making student at the Victorian College of the Arts.  Hollywood beckoned, or so I hoped!

Subsequently a car accident in Kakadu threatened to end my life. Were it not for 3 Aboriginal men passing by, the quick response of the local emergency service and the retrieval doctor, it would have.  A coincidental encounter with an Indigenous patient I’d treated in Katherine during his own brush with death, combined with my own experience, invigorated a passion for remote, retrieval and Indigenous medicine that continues today.

The pilots, doctors and nurses involved with the Royal Flying Doctor Service – where I now work – do so where no city is closer than 1000 miles.  Serving in remote communities and particularly making a difference to this continent’s first people, whose health remains ever compromised by over 200 years of colonisation and marginalisation, remains an immensely satisfying way to spend a day’s work.


Biography:

Tim is an aeromedical retrieval specialist who has worked as a doctor with the RFDS Queensland Section for over 3 years. He is also a generalist anaesthetist and film maker.  He lives in Melbourne, Mt Isa and he gets to the remote parts of the Northern Territory when he can, for that is where his own life was saved and changed.

Click here for full biography (RFDS).

Disaster prepardness: Looking beyond the streetlight

Dr Karen Hammad (FCENA) PhD, BN(Hons), Grad Dip Emerg Nsg

World Health Organisation

Does it feel like you haven’t had enough disaster training or that the disaster training you have had is somewhat lacking? This presentation will explore current themes in disaster training and why we need to change the way we look at disaster training.


Biography:

In 2001 while watching scenes from the World Trade Center attack unfold on television Karen was prompted to reflect on the readiness of the emergency department she was working in at the time as well as her own personal preparedness for something similar occurring in her own city. Karen recognised gaps in her own disaster preparedness and through discussions with colleagues became aware that others felt as unprepared as she did. This stirred a passion in Karen which determined the rest of her career focussing on building resilience and preparedness in front line health professionals.

Karen graduated from the University of South Australia as a Registered Nurse in 1996 and has spent most of her career working clinically in emergency departments. Karen has also worked for nearly a decade in the university system where she developed and coordinated a Masters Degree in Disaster Health Care. Karen holds a PhD from Flinders University which explores the experiences of nurses who have worked in emergency departments during disasters. Karen is an active researcher with a focus on preparedness, response and resilience of health professionals in relation to disasters and unexpected events.

Having identified a gap in accessible and affordable disaster training for health professionals Karen established Disaster Readiness Solutions in 2018. Disaster Readiness Solutions currently provides development, training and consulting to health professionals, health organisations, small business, schools and community groups.

Karen is currently employed as a consultant for the World Health Organisation headquarters in Geneva where she works in health security focussing on preparedness for deliberate events with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear involvement.

Karen is a Fellow of the College of Emergency Nursing Australasia and has held positions as Company Director and State President. Karen is an Associate Director of the Torrens Resilience Institute, Deputy Chair of the Australian College of Nursing Disaster Community of Interest and is a member of the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine. Karen is proud to be an emergency nurse and continues to work clinical shifts when she can.

Dr Karen Hammad (FCENA)

PhD, BN(Hons), Grad Dip Emerg Nsg

In 2001 while watching scenes from the World Trade Center attack unfold on television Karen was prompted to reflect on the readiness of the emergency department she was working in at the time as well as her own personal preparedness for something similar occurring in her own city. Karen recognised gaps in her own disaster preparedness and through discussions with colleagues became aware that others felt as unprepared as she did. This stirred a passion in Karen which determined the rest of her career focussing on building resilience and preparedness in front line health professionals.

Karen graduated from the University of South Australia as a Registered Nurse in 1996 and has spent most of her career working clinically in emergency departments. Karen has also worked for nearly a decade in the university system where she developed and coordinated a Masters Degree in Disaster Health Care. Karen holds a PhD from Flinders University which explores the experiences of nurses who have worked in emergency departments during disasters. Karen is an active researcher with a focus on preparedness, response and resilience of health professionals in relation to disasters and unexpected events.

Karen is currently employed as a consultant for the World Health Organisation headquarters in Geneva where she works in health security focussing on preparedness for deliberate events with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear involvement.

Karen is a Fellow of the College of Emergency Nursing Australasia and has held positions as Company Director and State President. Karen is an Associate Director of the Torrens Resilience Institute, Deputy Chair of the Australian College of Nursing Disaster Community of Interest and is a member of the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine. Karen is proud to be an emergency nurse and continues to work clinical shifts when she can.

The road less travelled… Broken Hill to Kandahar, Tacloban and beyond

Bronte Martin1,2,3

1Director of Nursing, National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre
2Advanced Team Leader, Australian Medical Assistance Teams
3Wing Commander, Royal Australian Air Force Specialist Reserve

This presentation will describe and explore the unique personal experiences of nursing in a variety of austere environments both military and civilian; from peacekeeping in the Solomon Islands, to combat trauma care in Afghanistan, to providing emergency disaster care in field hospital in Tacloban.