The first minutes after an accident can make the difference between life and death.

Chelsea Thomas watched in horror as a car flipped and rolled at an organised rally event in the remote area of Derby, north Western Australia, where she worked as a volunteer steward. Then her CareFlight training – completed just that day – clicked into gear.

The kind of situation in which Chelsea found herself is not uncommon in regional and rural areas. People who are injured in accidents in remote locations are often in more danger simply because help is far away.

With health services stretched, and vast distances a real barrier to rapid response, the first person on the scene of a trauma incident in rural Australia is more likely to be someone like Chelsea – a volunteer emergency services first responder – than a medical professional.

Working fast – as the car was now alight – Chelsea instructed her team to haul the young driver out of the vehicle and onto a rescue board where they began treating him. Thanks to her CareFlight MediSim training, Chelsea also knew the importance of removing the patient’s helmet to help reduce the risk of brain injuries due to swelling.

When the ambulance paramedics arrived on scene, they were amazed at how well the patient was being cared for. Thanks to the timely actions of Chelsea and her team, he was later discharged from hospital with no major injuries or complications.

“Just being able to do something, and to know you’ve done everything you possibly can to save a life, is worth the training,” Chelsea later said.

For CareFlight, the results speak for themselves – brave community volunteers like Chelsea feel more capable, more assured – and are more likely to continue volunteering. This in turn makes communities more resilient.