Medivac Nocte Timore Leste

Dr Mark Loeffler1

1Medicine Avenue, Melbourne, VIC, Australia


The first issue is of safety. One needed to drive from a hotel which was found a certain distance to reach the base. In peak traffic, this could be difficult. I was weaving in and out of oncoming traffic while driving on third world roads.
That night we had vague information about back pain, after a significant fall from height. We took our kite inclusive of the spine board and boarded the chopper — a Blackhawk. While doing so, our second team arrived also preparing for a retrieval.

While following the army guide my unaccommodated eyes were causing my lower limbs to hit all sort of debris including boulders and trees and carrying a heavy pack while blind, up against a steep unstable and unknown gradient of a partial mountain was a cause for my thinking to change.
I returned to the chopper and signalled the retrieval team that its impossible to get up there on foot.

We all felt very isolated. We proceeded to the site of the accident and retrieved one patient. This patient was walking wounded and from our understanding, the second IP was still down the mountain. Running low on fuel we decided to be repelled down to the accident site and allowing the helicopter to fly away to refuel with our other IP briefly.

The first IP was far the worst patient medically. He turned out to have a degloving of all his scalp from the fall. The other IP had a broken lateral process at the height of his lumbar area and was not deemed all that serious.

The problematic case was showing work under challenging conditions and surroundings — a remote area while experiencing extreme noise and poor communications.


AeroMedical Retrieval doctor born from the RFDS West Ops in 2001 then progressing to private aeromedical retrieval. Keeping up my GP skills in conjunction with Emergency anaesthetics has enabled me to continue emergency type medicine. Especially in rural and very remote areas of Australia both onshore and offshore as well as internationally. Monash University ACCAM course in 2001 was an excellent primer. Also, 2-weeks of advanced training in Avmed Qatar, Doha 2017 gave further re-enforcement, leading to offshore retrievals. Working on Construction ships lead to interesting work in the remote field.

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