Flight nurse always up for a challenge

Date published

20 Aug 2015

Flight nurse Kathleen Ross likes challenges; from running a marathon along the Great Wall of China to climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, this energetic young woman enjoys not quite knowing what is around the corner.

Kathleen said her bucket list has also included working with the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

"I have been based in Jandakot for the past 18 months after working at the hospital emergency department in Townsville," she said.

"It was nice to come 'home' to WA as all of my family is here."

Kathleen had her first taste of the flying doctor as a young girl when she broke her arm in about half a dozen places.

"I was doing gymnastics and managed to sever a nerve and very badly broke my arm, requiring a flight to hospital by the RFDS for treatment. The flight staff were so professional and reassuring throughout the flight.

"That was a long time ago now - I just love the view from my "office window" in the aircraft every day.

Sometimes we get up at crazy hours but we never know where we will be flying to and I work as part of the most awesome team of people.

Kathleen said that from her immediate team to the St John Ambulance volunteers to people in small communities who put lights out to help the aircraft land; she is constantly amazed by the number of incredible people she meets on the job.

Graphic: Kathleen on the plane

"I have fond memories of a man from Exmouth who had been gold prospecting for most of his life. He looked like an ordinary 'aussie bloke', wearing a singlet and thongs however he had the most philosophical outlook on life and was fascinating totalk to.

"He was in the last stages of his life and planned to walk out to the middle of nowhere and keep prospecting until he couldn't anymore."

"There are also some very sad cases and it is partly for this reason that you absolutely need a sense of humour. There are times when you laugh with the team when you actually want to cry but a positive outlook gets you through.

Kathleen said one of the most rewarding elements of working with the RFDS was the feedback.

"Many of the patients, especially the elderly, are so grateful to see us. Children love it and despite being sometimes very ill,they are so excited to be on the plane. It's also great to be part of the 'story' for the many ambulance and community volunteers who often help, especially in small towns."

Kathleen said long hours are part of the job and early in her time as a flight nurse she did more than 18 hours, travelling from Bruce Rock to Christmas Island and finally back to Jandakot.

"I had really wanted to see Christmas Island but we landed just before sunrise and took off right on Sunrise, it was so busy I didn't see much but there is likely to be a next time!"