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Logistics in the Never Never: the Challenges of Aeromedical Co-ordination in the Remote Top End of Australia


Naomi Lacey



NaomiLacey has worked as a logistics co-ordinator for CareFlight in the NT for 6 years and in that time has co-ordinated well over a thousand aeromedical jobs across the Top End utilising both fixed and rotary wing aircraft. Her previous life as a skipper on a remote fishing expedition boat and as a tour guide working across Arnhem Land, the Kimberley coast and in and around Kakadu has given her a unique insight into, and love for, the inner workings of the Top End, it's people and communities which she continues to enjoy to this day.

CareFlight Northern Territory (NT) operates in an area of 600,000 km² in the Top End of the NT and retrieves over 3,500 patients per year in a population of approximately 170,000. This presentation aims to highlight some of the more extreme logistical difficulties faced in providing aeromedical services in the remote NT environment where weather, distances and isolation present real challenges to both access to, and provision of, this service.

An overview of the service CareFlight provides in the Top End of the NT, typical caseload scenarios, partnerships with other organisations and services as well as environmental challenges will be discussed. Two cases will be presented to highlight exactly how challenging these jobs can really be from a logistics perspective.  From fielding up to 30 calls per job, to sourcing boats, utes and tractors to faciliate movement of patients, asking the local mechanic to help remove wedding bands that are threatening the viability of fingers and all this whilst tussling with restrictive communications both at the scene and in the air; its never a dull day in the CareFlight Top End Logistics Coodination Unit.

Finding "out-of-the-box" solutions is demanded daily of the logistician in this austere land of sparsely inhabited and at times, crocodile infested communities. CareFlight's Logistics Co-ordination Unit is the only one of it's kind in Australia where medical and aviation professionals work directly side by side with the logisticians to provide the best possible outcomes in a timely and safe manner. In this environment teamwork is everything. The missions are unique, varied and at times, immensely complicated from the first phone call to the final point of hand over at the one tertiary hospital in the Top End, Royal Darwin Hospital.



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