Graphic: Nathan and Christine Harvey with their childern Henry, Stanley, George and Isobel.
The Harvey family from Caradoc Station, in north western NSW, have always relied on the Flying Doctor.
Henry, aged eight, recalls one memorable incident when he was outside with his mum, Christine.
“I put my hand down a hole and something bit me,” he says. “I pulled it out and was screaming. There were two marks on my thumb.”
Christine says, “My husband Nathan had previously killed brown snakes on the property. At the time I was on my own with Henry and George, who was in a baby carrier. I texted photos of the bite to the clinic staff. They advised to put a bandage on Henry’s hand and come straight in. I just threw the kids in the car and drove to White Cliffs clinic.
“They did the swab test but couldn’t find any venom. A lot of bites are ‘dry’, but they didn’t want to take the risk. The Flying Doctor sent a plane and off we went on the aircraft to Broken Hill. We were very lucky.
“Things like that really bring it home to you. It’s just your biggest fear with your kids, a snake bite.”
Both Henry and George also fractured their arms at the age of three.
“Fortunately we haven’t had to use the plane too much,” says Nathan. “But it’s great to have it around.”
Christine is also grateful for being able to phone the doctor for immediate advice when she is concerned. “The Flying Doctor is such a wonderful service, having a young family out here,” she says.
“It’s brilliant,” says Nathan. “When Stanley fell over and grazed himself it got infected. I was able to take a photo and send it to the doctor and then ring up. They can see just as well as if you were in there. We could get the antibiotics from the Medical Chest.”
The White Cliffs clinic provides for the family’s primary healthcare needs and Christine says it’s a wonderful service. “It’s not just for children’s accidents. There’s immunisations for them and pregnancy checks. Having four children, we access the service all the time. It’s vital to families living here.”