Thursday 23 August 2018
A 40-year-old woman has been airlifted from Gunlom Falls Campground overnight after having a health episode.
CareFlight, operating the Top End Medical Retrieval Service on behalf of the Northern Territory Government, tasked the Top End Rescue Helicopter to the scene shortly after 11.00pm.
The mission, made possible by CareFlight’s use of night vision goggles, shows how important technology advances can be in terms of patient outcomes.
“Go back ten years – a mission like this would have been extremely dangerous,” CareFlight Helicopter Pilot Greg Ohlsson said.
“Now, night vision goggles mean these missions can happen much more safely.”
The special goggles that CareFlight crews use during night missions amplify available light by over 60,000 times and allow the crews to see the ground and obstacles at night, something that is not possible with the naked eye.
“That means with the night vision goggles, even starlight provides enough light for us to see the ground clearly, which helps us reach more people than ever before, and we are lucky because the NT Government were amongst the very first government agencies in Australia to support use of this technology,” Pilot Ohlsson said.
During the dry season, crews also have to battle with visibility challenges brought on by dust during landings and smoke from bushfires.
CareFlight crews mentioned the importance of having a suitable landing site for their missions in Kakadu National Park.
“When there’s dust during a landing, we can’t see the ground and we have to use the winch to access patients,” the pilot said.
“The cleared landing site at the Mary River Ranger Station near the Gunlom Campground certainly paid off last night, it meant we could land safely and access the patient much more quickly. A big thanks to the National Parks Team for the effort they have made to ensure the aircraft can land safely – these efforts make potentially large differences to the time it takes us to access patients.”
CareFlight thanked emergency service crews and park rangers who provided initial care for the woman.
The woman was airlifted to Darwin where St John Ambulance crews transported her to Royal Darwin Hospital in a stable condition.