More than just the flying doctor

Host: Eversleigh Station
Written by Jenny Underwood – Owner, Eversleigh Station.

1.1 copyA Royal Flying Doctor Service plane coming in to land.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (or “The Flying Doctor” as it is more commonly known) would have to be among one of the most well known symbols of the Australian Bush. The Reverend John Flynn, founder of the aeromedical service, would be overwhelmed to see how his vision of providing a “mantle of safety” for those living in the Australian Outback has developed since its inception last century.

The RFDS provides emergency and primary health care services for all people living in rural, remote, and regional areas of Australia.

There are a number of RFDS bases around Australia which also provide medical advice over the phone and/or internet to isolated properties. Many properties have a special RFDS kit which contains a wide range of drugs, medications, and medical equipment to deal with a variety of health problems.

If the injury or illness is serious the Flying Doctor will often fly to the property to evacuate the patient to hospital. These emergencies can happen at any time of the day or night so properties ensure that they have a well-maintained airstrip suitable for the RFDS plane to land safely. The nearest strip in our district is at “Barenya”, 35km away from Eversleigh.

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Once a year in late August, the Flying Doctor staff from the Cairns Base (in Far Northern Qld) flies to Barenya to conduct a “Pit Stop” and Information Day. It is not unusual for families to drive up to 100km to attend this special day.

1.3 copyClinic days are held in the shearers’ quarters at Barenya Station. At times families have driven up to 100km to attend the special RFDS days.

There is generally the doctor, one or two nurses, as well as other health care professionals involved in the clinic day. Families can see the doctor for a range of health problems; cholesterol and blood pressure checks are done; children and babies receive immunizations and health checks. A variety of information sessions which cover areas as diverse as mental health and depression, treating snake bites, monitoring the warning signs of heart attack and stroke and heatstroke, how to perform CPR (mouth-to-mouth), and to how to give injections are also held at the clinic.

1.4 copyMany different information sessions are held at the Pit Stop Days – this was a talk on recognizing the signs of depression.

In the last few years, due to the on-going drought and its huge impact upon the community, a number of other community and support organizations such as the Uniting Church’s Frontier Services, Qld Health (from Hughenden and Charters Towers), Centacare and Remote Area Family Services have also attended. These groups, along with locals who volunteered their time and services, combined to give graziers a “pamper day” where you could be spoiled for the day and get a massage, a facial, a pedicure or even a haircut. These “Laughter, Fun, and Relaxation” days were intended to give our minds, spirits, and bodies a lift – and they certainly did!

1.5 copyThe Remote Area Family Services girls based at Longreach travelled by road to keep the young children entertained.

1.6 copyWe were treated to massages, facials, pedicures – the whole works.  Even the men made sure they didn’t miss out!

1.7 copyMy husband, Roger, receiving a long-overdue haircut from local hairdresser, Annmarie Wieben. Annmarie travelled from Hughenden and donated her services for the day.

In 2014 the children from the two local one-teacher schools were given a special treat when Glide Watersports from the Gold Coast flew out with the RFDS crew to teach the children about water safety and introduce them to the sport of paddleboarding. Undeterred by the fact that it was winter, the kids had a great time paddling on the turkey’s nest (a man-made “dam” built above the ground to store water pumped from underground from the Great Artesian Basin) while the cattle in the adjoining paddocks probably wondered what was going on!

1.8 copyChildren from Cameron Downs and Prairie State Schools were instructed in water safety and taught the basics of Paddleboarding by members of Glide Watersports. The only water available was in one of the turkey nests – you wonder what the cattle were thinking was going on! (Photo courtesy of Sharon Jonsson)

1.9 copyIn 2015 we learned to finer art of Belly Dancing. It was a fun session with more belly laughing than belly dancing going on!

Smoko (morning and afternoon tea) and lunch are always an important part of the day and the table in the shearers’ quarters is always laden with delicious treats.

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We are very fortunate to have such a wide range of Government, community, and volunteer groups available to those of us living in the bush. The support which has been received from so many organizations during the drought has been nothing short of amazing and it is very much appreciated.