Shirley's Sliding Door

To Shirley, it's not having to think what could’ve been.

Outback traveller Shirley shudders to think ‘what could’ve been’ if she did not have a retrieval team by her side when her body shut down.

When Dr Jessica Martyn first set eyes on Shirley McLean in the remote Mungerannie Hotel she says the outback adventurer was cheerfully insisting a sweet cup of tea would set her right.

Only two hours earlier, Shirley had been found unconscious by a creek bed in the dark and freezing cold some 860 kilometres north of Adelaide on the Birdsville Track.

Cardiac arrest in the Outback

After two glasses of wine and a chin-wag with publican Phil, Shirley returned to the campground to set up her swag but suddenly felt dizzy, nauseous, lost her balance, and eventually collapsed. 

When members of the travel group noticed she was missing and found her, they issued the emergency call to the on-call Doctor with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS). 

Responding to the task, Dr Jess Martyn and Flight Nurse Chris Green boarded their standby aircraft at RFDS Port Augusta Base prepared for all outcomes.

“When we arrived, we checked Shirley’s blood pressure, heart rate and completed some blood tests and all were normal,” Dr Martyn says.

“So when her first cardiac arrest happened it was well and truly out of the blue.”

Watch the video for the full story.