Graphic: A life-saving phone call
Jess and Tim Alford knew their eldest son Nick, was not well but had no reason to be overly concerned. Being hours away from a health clinic or hospital, Jess made a routine phone call to the Flying Doctor just to be safe. It was that phone call that saved four-year-old Nick’s life.
“We knew Nick was unwell because he had been in bed sleeping,” Jess recalls. “But, we didn’t really know what was wrong and to be honest, we weren’t overly worried – thinking it was just a virus or bug.
“Tim’s mum was here on the property with us at the time. When Tim was younger, his sister had an asthma attack and the Flying Doctor flew her to a hospital all those year ago. It was my mother-in-law who suggested I call the Flying Doctor just to check on Nick because he was having a little difficulty breathing, but wasn’t wheezing or coughing or anything you would expect with asthma.”
At the other end of the phone that day was Dr Shauna Taylor.
“I spoke to Jess and asked her to take a video of Nick,” Dr Taylor says. “It was only after I watched the video of Nick and his breathing that I realised how sick he was.”
Dr Taylor prescribed medication from the Medical Chest the family has on their property to help Nick’s breathing – almost instantly – while Jess prepared for the Flying Doctor to arrive and take Nick to hospital.
“Within five minutes of having the medication, Nick was outside playing again with his little brother. I phoned Dr Taylor back and asked if we still needed to fly out,” Jess recalls.
The Flying Doctor and Queensland Ambulance Service worked together to get Nick to Hughenden Hospital – more than three hours’ drive away.
“Dr Shauna was absolutely amazing. I have phoned the Flying Doctor, a few times before, and used the Medical Chest before – but never for an emergency like this,” Jess shares.
“I don’t know what would have happened to Nick without the Flying Doctor, and that’s quite scary to think about as a mum. I definitely wouldn’t be so calm in situations like this if we didn’t have the Flying Doctor.
“We do our best to be safe – we always wear helmets, we are prepared for all situations, and have first aid kits – but you can’t prepare for everything.
“Nick’s severe asthma attack made me realise just how lucky we are to have the Flying Doctor. We have a Medical Chest here for all sorts of situations, we have access to the Flying Doctor telehealth service at any time of day or night, and in emergencies the Flying Doctor can land on the airstrip on our neighbours’ property. We really are so lucky, and so grateful.”
RFDS (Queensland Section) had more than 17,000 remote consultation calls in the past year. This crucial service ensures people in regional, rural, and remote communities have access to the Flying Doctor 24 hours a day, seven days a week.