We all know the saying ‘safe travels’, and hope that things will go to plan. But what happens when something goes wrong? If someone gets hurt, or is injured?
It happened to us.
Our 8 year old fell into a fire pit
Our family were at the beginning of the Gibb River Road when something went wrong. Camped at a National Park, we had just arrived when out 8 year old let out an almighty screech. He had tripped, and fallen into a fire pit. The fire was not lit, but the coals were smoking hot from the previous campers. He burnt the palm and side of one hand (he was very lucky not to burn both hands or other parts of his body).
I am trained in First Aid, and knew exactly what needed to be done. After washing the hand and assessing the burn, we kept it under cold water and gave him Panadol and Nurofen to help ease the pain.
A traveler camped next to us was a nurse, and offered advise and assistance also. Fellow travelers and generally most people in the outback are very friendly and happy to help. It really is a community out there.
When to seek help
By this stage it was dark. We were in the middle of a National Park, far from the closest town. Ordinarily, we would have taken him straight to the closest hospital, and would have done so if his condition deteriorated.
Luckily, he seemed to be settling well, but we continued to monitor him for signs of shock. Fortunately for us, the pain eased and he made it through the night without a problem. Had things got worse, we would have had to make a decision to drive a few hundred kilometres in the dark to the nearest hospital, or if things were really bad, to seek emergency assistance.
Emergency help with no phone signal
Prior to leaving home, we purchased a personal emergency beacon that can be used when we don’t have phone reception. The beacon works using satellite technology, and can be activated in a life threatening situation at the press of a button.
We have a 12 month subscription, that alerts emergency services to our location. Alternatively, mobile phones can sometimes be used to make an emergency call using the number 112 (instead of 000), but can’t always be relied upon. Fortunately, we didn’t need to use it on this occasion.
Rural hospital emergency departments
The following day, we made our way to the closest emergency department, and were very well cared for. Alex was assessed, and we were advised that the hospital in the next town would be best suited to helping him. An appointment was even made for us. Rural hospitals tend to be a central base for all hospital and general health care needs.
Upon arrival, we were again helped beyond expectation. Everyone was very friendly and bent over backwards to assist. City hospitals could learn a thing or two! After a short one hour wait (short compared to what we are used to in the city!), huge apologies were made for the wait (wow!), and he was assessed and treated.
The wound was dressed, photos taken to be sent to the Children’s Hospital for assessment, and we left with a bag of supplies for the next few days and instructions for the next hospital to attend.
A few days later, when we rolled into the next town and presented at the hospital as instructed, his file had been transferred and the wonderful care continued. Again, he was assessed and treated, an update made to the Children’s Hospital, and an appointment made for a few days later.
In total, we had 4 visits to 3 different hospitals, plus the referral to the Children’s Hospital. We were very confident that he was receiving the best possible care.
You might also like to consider ‘Do I need Private Healthcare when Travelling Australia’?
In a city, you are never too far from help. In the outback or rural Australia, help might be further away. The good news is, that people are generally very friendly and more than happy to assist.
Still, it helps to have a contingency plan and to know where you can seek assistance, if required.
As we travel, we try to take the necessary precautions to prevent injury, and are equipped to treat an injury and seek assistance if and when required. We always familiarize ourselves with the closest hospital and services, and carry a first aid kit and our beacon wherever we go.
Accidents of illness can strike when you least expect, no matter where you are. We can’t live life waiting for the worst to happen, but we can be prepared to respond to a situation if and when something goes wrong when travelling.
Since writing this article, our youngest son dislocated his wrist, also breaking two bones. Read about our Emergency just outside Port Douglas.