Five in critical condition after series of CareFlight rescues in NT


September 02, 2019 14:44:47

The tyranny of distance between remote populations and acute medical services in the Northern Territory has again conspired to test emergency crews, with five people flown to Darwin hospitals across the weekend.

Key points:

  • The aeromedical rescue service rescued a sick man on a cruise ship 200 kilometres of the Australian mainland
  • CareFlight crews also flew to three traffic collisions over the weekend
  • One of the rescues was “complicated by smoke from bushfires”

CareFlight crews flew to three separate traffic collisions and a cruise ship 200 kilometres off the north coast of Australia — the latter rescue involving a complex and dramatic winch retrieval.

The first of the car crashes occurred on Friday outside Maningrida, 500 kilometres east of Darwin, when a four-wheel drive carrying eight passengers rolled over, and four injured patients needed to be airlifted to Royal Darwin Hospital.

On Saturday, two crashes — a collision between a car and a campervan travelling on the Kakadu Highway, and a two-vehicle crash near the community of Peppimenarti 320 kilometres south-west of Darwin — triggered further CareFlight rescues.

The rescue effort in Peppimenarti was “complicated by smoke from bushfires” that prevented air crews from landing near the scene, according to a statement from CareFlight.

Cruise ship rescue’s ‘challenging hover’

The most sensational rescue operation of the weekend saw a CareFlight helicopter winch a critically sick man from a cruise ship that was stopped 200 kilometres off the Australian mainland, before flying him to Royal Darwin Hospital.

The rescue of the man in his seventies “was made more complex due to the amount of fuel required to make the trip and complete the challenging hover and winch retrieval, as there was no helipad on the ship”, according to CareFlight.

Last month CareFlight winched a 33-year-old woman out of Koolpin Gorge in Kakadu after she slipped and injured her back while hiking.

Days later, a wide-spread ground and air search operation began for French tourist Yann Buriet at Kakadu’s Gunlom Falls, before Mr Buriet was found unharmed and unaware his disappearance had sparked a mass search operation.









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