Graphic: White Cliffs resident Shannon Forrest
White Cliffs, a small town 93 kilometres north of Wilcannia, is just one of almost two dozen clinics we operate across our section. The Flying Doctor team visits the clinic every week for general primary healthcare appointments. A dentist and a member of our mental health team also visit fortnightly while specialists visit depending on availability. One of our patients shares his story of why clinics are so important to the Outback.
Shannon Forrest relies on the regular White Cliffs clinic for general healthcare for himself and his family.
On the day we visited the clinic, he was in for a check-up following a disturbing incident with serious heart palpitations the previous week.
"My heart was pounding out of my chest; it was not normal," recalls Shannon. He was so concerned he phoned the clinic for an appointment.
"It had all stopped by the time I got on the bed (for examination). So I'm here today to take blood tests."
Far more frightening was the time the family was on a hill taking photos of lightning.
"There were no trees around and it was late in the afternoon," says Shannon, who lives with his family in a dugout (underground house) at White Cliffs.
"The lightning hit the car first and seemed to spray onto us. We all had thongs on and I think that saved us! The camera doesn't work anymore though."
Shannon drove them straight to the clinic, which was still open.
"My wife, myself and my son were able to race in here," says Shannon. "I felt really sick, like migraine headaches." Fortunately the family all recovered from the shock.
"We'd all be knackered if there wasn't a clinic here," he says. "It'd be no good driving to Wilcannia if you needed to see a doctor in an emergency."