First week of 2018 over and done with a few out of the normal events. There is Mens Ceremony being held at the moment which will continue on for some weeks. I have been paying a visit to the men's camp, with permission of the elders, to attend to any infections or general health issues arising. It has become a normal routine to drive the few kilometres out of the community but I should not forget that I would be one of very few non-indigenous people that have been allowed to visit these camps. Out of respect for the culture I will not reveal any of the proceedings but rest assured there are some aspects of the proceedings that are not for the feint hearted.
Jo and myself were on-call last Saturday and the day started off quite well with our first call not until about 10;30 AM, very civilised. Unfortunately it did not stop until around 9:45 PM without a break, mostly run-of-the-mill presentations. Children with fevers, some vommiting and diarrhoea, a lady with Pyelonephritis (kidney infection) and so on. I was called to the community police station to do a "fit for custody" assessment which was straight forward enough. Until the fellow found out he was going to be transferred to Alice Springs which sent him off the deep end and again without going into details meant the officers would need to put aside a number of hours to clean the cell afterwards.
We arrived home to fall appreciatively into our chairs in front of the TV and just veg out for a while, and a while is all we got. I answered the phone about 10:45 to the St John's Ambulance comms centre in Alice Springs which always get my heart rate up. I was told there was a single vehicle roll-over about 130 km's East of Yuendumu on the main Tanami Road to Alice Springs. Details were sketchy but enough to be told there was police at the scene, 5 occupants unrestrained, 1 deceased at the scene, 1 critical and 3 unknown injuries.
We jumped into our shoes, drove to the clinic to collect our trauma bags and headed out of town. In the dark our speed was reduced due to the possibility of animals on the road. We arrived at the scene about 12:30 AM to find the vehicle had travelled off the road around 60 metres so had to bump the ambulance across country to have our equipment and lights handy. I found working in the dark with torches with the red and blue emergency services lights blinking in the background quite surreal.
Again details are probably not necessary but without the police stumbling across the accident and being able to use their satellite phone to contact us there more than likely would have been 2 fatalities. A hour or so after we arrived the ambulance arrived from Alice Springs with a RFDS retrieval doctor who was able to intubate the casualty and transport him to the hospital. We were left to transport the remaining occupants in our ambulance and police vehicle to Alice Springs with nothing more than a few broken bones.
That transport saw us finish our handover to hospital staff around 6:30 AM Sunday. We contacted our on call manager who offered to book us into a hotel room for a few hours sleep before having to face the 3 hour drive back to Yuendumu. We arrived back in Yuendumu around 3:30 PM, gladly handed the ambulance to the Sunday on call nurses and promptly fell into bed after a quick shower and didn't stir till morning again.
Happy New Year!!!!!!!!