“Climbing aboard one of our Royal Flying Doctor Service King Airs is something I’ve done many times before, but now it can feel slightly surreal,” says flight nurse and educator Michael Cook on responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the last few months, the global COVID-19 pandemic has changed the lives of Australians. In response to the crisis, Royal Flying Doctor Service flight nurses and other frontline employees have completely changed the way they work, and remain on high alert. Michael recalls when the outbreak first reached Australia. He says the stress surrounding the logistics of moving suspected COVID-19 patients was intense.
“The personal protective equipment we wear is hot and restrictive, and on a long shift in the outback, the impact these extra physical precautions can have on the team while on a job shouldn’t be underestimated.” As a frontline flight nurse, Michael now wears his regular clothes when heading to work before getting changed on base into his flight nurse uniform, a gown, gloves, and face shield. After finishing a shift, uniforms are laundered in hot water, with Michael showering before leaving work and again after arriving home. Michael is also employed as a flight nurse educator for the Flying Doctor and the fight against COVID-19 has meant a significant increase in training.
“We need to train for this, and we are training hard. I feel proud to work for an organisation like the Royal Flying Doctor Service as we have all banded together. We will get through this whilst maintaining the highest level of care for our patients.” Michael says there are many things he will take away from the coronavirus pandemic, but the main thing is the overwhelming sense of comradery.