Cooper Basin Rescue

Date published

06 Aug 2019

“My partner and I were enjoying a fantastic outback holiday with two of our grandchildren,” said Adelle Beu, a Registered Nurse from Adelaide.

Two adults and five children are outdoors smiling at the camera.

"I was messing around with the kids, balancing barefoot along the trunk of a fallen tree. I must have been about three metres up when I slipped and fell. My shoulder bore much of the impact.”  

Adelle landed face down. Her nursing background left her almost certain that she had fractured her wrist and the top of her humerus. 

She was in significant pain – over 1,000 kilometres from Adelaide in the SA's Far North near the Queensland border. 

Adelle was unable to move or get into a car to make the short journey to the nearby Innamincka township. 

Instead, Adelle was airlifted to the Moomba Health Centre via the Cooper Medivac 24 helicopter where she received initial care from an on-call Health Nurse. 

Cooper Medivac 24 was developed and funded by RFDS Major Partners, Senex Energy and Beach Energy, to assist with local emergency response for residents, employees and tourists in the remote Cooper Basin.

Two men in RFDS uniform look seriously at a computer screen.

“The clinic nurse was lovely,” remembers Adelle. “And it was wonderful to be able to access some pain relief – I was very grateful for the ‘green whistle’!”

Meanwhile, hundreds of kilometres away in Port Augusta, Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Operations Coordinators were busy tasking an aircraft and aeromedical crew to airlift Adelle from Moomba to Adelaide for further medical treatment.

Pilot Gerrit Koldenhof and Flight Nurse Cameron Sims boarded Beach Energy-badged aircraft VH-JDN – the newest aeromedically-equipped Pilatus PC12 to join the fleet at RFDS Central Operations – ready for the aircraft’s first landing in the Cooper Basin.

The 1,150-kilometre journey from Moomba to Adelaide takes over 13 hours by road, but a RFDS ‘flying intensive care unit’ covers this ground in just two hours.

A stationary aircraft with RFDS logo.

“There was a great sense of relief when the Flying Doctor arrived,” said Adelle.

“Finding yourself injured in such a remote location really makes you appreciate the challenges posed by distance," she said. 

"When you live and work in the city, you don’t often stop to think about the challenges of accessing help in an emergency.”

The aircraft landed at Adelaide Airport, where an ambulance was waiting ready to complete Adele’s journey to the Royal Adelaide Hospital for specialist medical care.

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