Flying doctor a lifesaver


RFDS chief executive Grahame Marshall with Michelle Eales.
RFDS chief executive Grahame Marshall with Michelle Eales.

Michelle Eales could have easily become another road fatality during a trip to Kalgoorlie to visit her sister last year.

The 24-year-old was in the car with her boyfriend when it hit a section of uneven road, rolled a number of times, and crashed.

The car was destroyed in the accident, the roof almost peeled completely off from the rear windscreen to the front.

While her boyfriend escaped without injury, Ms Eales suffered a head wound and suspected neck injury.

“My head and neck were sore and I wasn’t sure if I had suffered serious injury or not, so we were taken by ambulance to Southern Cross Hospital (and) then the staff there called the Royal Flying Doctor Service,” she said.

“Once on the plane, the doctor and flight nurse were amazing. They put me in a neck brace and reassured me that while they didn’t think I had serious injuries, they wanted to be sure.

“So they stabilised me and then ensured I would be seen by specialists who would also rule out any internal injuries.”

RFDS chief executive Grahame Marshall said everyone needed to take care on the roads to avoid becoming another statistic.

“While the RFDS team is on hand 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, it would obviously be preferable that we weren’t needed at all, particularly on our roads,” he said.

Many of the people assisted by the team at the RFDS were airlifted from rural or remote areas, Mr Marshall said.

It would seem that a large number of them live in the Perth metropolitan area and may not be accustomed to travelling long distances on country roads.

“What we’re asking people to do is be mindful of the road conditions, and the additional care needed when driving long distances.”

Mr Marshall said the last 12 months had seen the RFDS treat 550 patients from road accidents. Visit www.flyingdoctor.org.au for more details.