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The Last Call of the Day

Story by Divyan Ahimaz. Photos by Divyan Ahimaz, Aaron Rigg and Matt Roediger.

MAF helps conduct a medical evacuation of a lady stung by a stingray in Arnhem Land, Australia.

It was 4:30pm on a Friday and the operations team at Gove were closing the office for the weekend. Noel Carpenter answered the last call that came in from Garrthalala. It was a request for a medevac flight. A Yolngu lady, Djurambil Munungurr was stung by a stingray when she was collecting clams with her family. Noel was told that she was bleeding profusely and was in pain.

Matt Roediger was the only pilot available at the time. He started off with his paperwork as his colleagues prepared the aircraft for the medical retrieval.

First aid at the community

Meanwhile at the community, Djurambil was carried to the local clinic by her family. Most homeland clinics are equipped with a video conferencing system and the clinic at Garrthalala was one of them. This video conferencing system is a direct line that connects the caller to remote doctors, who would then give first-aid guidance based on what they see. But this proved to be difficult that day.

Not being able to connect with a doctor, the community now searched for someone from within to help. By this time the granddaughter of the injured lady rushed to the clinic. She was one of the trained first-aiders in the community. She prepared the wound for transport as they waited for the MAF aircraft to arrive.

Help comes flying

The MAF aircraft reached Garrthalala around 5:30pm. A car brought the injured lady to the airstrip, and she was then carried to the aircraft. It was decided that Matt would fly the lady to Gove without an escort for Djurambil. He then learnt that an ambulance wasn’t organised as well. Ten minutes after first reaching Garthalala, the aircraft took off to Gove with the patient. Matt then asked operations to arrange an ambulance to take her to the hospital.

When the aircraft reached Gove, the paramedics had already arrived. They transferred her to the stretcher and treated the wound with some warm water to numb the pain. She was taken to the district hospital in a stable condition.

At the hospital

I met Djurambil at the hospital, three days later. She had recovered well to be moved to the general ward, and the doctors were planning to discharge her the next day. “I would like to thank MAF, with all my heart. Thank you MAF for helping me,” she said with a shy smile on her face.



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