• Mon. Oct 3rd, 2022

LifeFlight Medical Recruits Soar During Training Week

ByJanice K. Merrill

Feb 15, 2022

RACQ LifeFlight Rescue press release | February 14, 2022

Estimated reading time 6 minutes, 1 second.

21 new RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Critical Care doctors joined the ranks across Queensland, but one of the recovery registrars had already treated a patient in the air, even before beginning formal aeromedical training.

Before flying, the new doctors completed LifeFlight’s world-renowned aeromedical training program, including helicopter underwater egress training. LifeFlight RACQ Rescue Photo

Dr Karin Dautzenberg was called in to help on the flight to Australia from the Netherlands when a passenger collapsed.

“The stewardess looked scared and I said ‘it’s okay, I’m a doctor,'” Dr Dautzenberg said.

“After 2 or 3 minutes he woke up and felt fine, so luckily there was no need to land the plane!”

Helping people was the reason Dr. Dautzenberg became a doctor. So she specialized in anesthesia, but it has always been her dream to work on helicopters.

“I still remember calling my mom and saying this was the job I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

New recruits have varying medical histories; some have traveled from overseas to join Queensland’s iconic aeromedical and rescue service, while others have practiced medicine in Australia and witnessed the work of LifeFlight.

RACQ LifeFlight Critical Care physicians must learn a dual hoist. LifeFlight RACQ Rescue Photo

All share a common goal of wanting to provide a high quality medical response to communities in remote and regional areas.

Before flying, the new medics completed LifeFlight’s world-renowned aeromedical training program, including helicopter underwater egress training (HUET) and winching.

RACQ LifeFlight Critical Care doctors must learn a double hoist, where they are paired with a paramedic, and a stretcher hoist, where they escort a patient onto the plane.

“It’s probably the most dangerous thing we do,” said RACQ LifeFlight Chief Aircrew Simon Gray.

“They have to trust a steel cable and someone sitting in a helicopter who might be 250 feet above them to make sure they’re safe when descending to a patient.

“Chances are that one of these doctors will show up at their base and do one on the very first day, or not do one at all, but we have to be prepared and we have to be able to go out and do that at a moment’s notice.”

In the unlikely event of a helicopter crash in the water, medics are now prepared with underwater egress training.

“We take them through multiple scenarios, including blindfolded sequences while upside down, and removing different types of restraints,” said LifeFlight Training Academy instructor Shaun Gillott.

“We run a professional organization and we always make sure we can provide the best training to our staff as well as the best service to the Queensland community.

“LifeFlight equips doctors with the skills to keep themselves and passengers safe.”

RACQ LifeFlight Critical Care Physicians have also learned specific pre-hospital and recovery clinical skills and practiced them in high-pressure scenarios at the Queensland Combined Emergency Services Academy on Whyte Island, Brisbane.

The scenarios are designed to mimic the worst incidents they may face in real life, such as a multi-vehicle accident, a house party with a drug overdose, and even a boating disaster.

The medics will be deployed to RACQ LifeFlight Rescue and Air Ambulance Jet helicopter bases in Queensland; some will be assigned to other aero-medical services.

The majority of their work is carried out on behalf of Queensland Health, under a ten-year service contract.

This press release was prepared and distributed by RACQ LifeFlight Rescue.