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LifeFlight’s elite doctor recruits to save lives – anyone, anywhere, anytime

LifeFlight’s newest Critical Care Doctor recruits are undergoing intensive air rescue and medical training as part of their intensive induction for aeromedical operations throughout Queensland and beyond.

Twenty two doctors from all over the world have come to work for LifeFlight due to its highly respected international profile, combined with the prospect of new challenging and lifesaving adventures in a different environment.

“These doctors are looking to work in a different health system, with a different team in a different environment, “said Dr Emmeline Finn, Director of Clinical Operations at LifeFlight.

“It’s the ultimate Australian adventure working in areas like the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree or out in rural and remote areas of Queensland.

 “LifeFlight is acknowledged as world leaders with dedicated facilities led by an expert team facility staffed by professionals with extensive experience working both nationally and internationally.

“Our international reputation has travelled by word of mouth via practitioners who have previously worked for LifeFlight (formerly known as CareFlight). Their shared experiences are what encourage doctors from around the globe to come and work here.”

Doctors have come from the United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Singapore, USA, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands with six recruits from within Australia.

Their intensive seven-day course includes winch training, a simulated car crash exercise, paediatric and disaster medicine. Some will be assigned to RACQ rescue helicopters while others will work on LifeFlight jets and on other air medical services.

For some of the doctors, this is a familiar experience as seasoned and experienced medicos in aeromedical retrievals back in their home countries.

Dr Anders (Sven) Forthmeiier said that the LifeFlight work was not dissimilar to the work he had performed back in his homeland of Sweden.

“Most of these flights are the same distance and time wise as when I operated back in Sweden - it will just be different scenery,” Dr Anders said.

“I fly on emergency helicopters back in Sweden, although I had not yet performed a winch operation until I came here, so it is exciting to learn how to do it and learn a new set of skills.”

Dr Juhana Hallikainen who worked in helicopter rescue services in Finland, decided to apply to LifeFlight following recommendations by colleagues who had previously worked with the organisation.

Dr Hallikainen brought his wife and four children over to live in Townsville and said it was a good move for his family, with a key benefit being the weather and change of scenery.

“I have worked for 14 years in medical retrievals in Finland but am looking forward to working on the jets as well which I know could involve international air medical retrievals,” he said.

“I wanted a new challenge here in Australia. It’s different to flying around the archipelagos in Finland.”

Dr Katie Clift moved from the UK to Rockhampton with her husband, who is also a medical practitioner at Rockhampton hospital, and their two children in the quest for a new professional challenge.

The highly experienced 43 year old neuro-anaesthetist had applied for her role not believing she would be selected.

 “I chose to work for LifeFlight because I really admire the work they do, it's such an essential respected and amazing service, “ Dr Clift said.

“We came over here for a big adventure, we wanted to do something different and experience another country so we moved here a year ago.

“This will be my very first time in a helicopter and everything about the training and the job is so exciting.”

Dr Hollis “Tag” Hopkins worked for five years in Colorado as a paramedic for “Flight for Life”, a wilderness rescue and critical care service, but is returning to work on helicopters as a qualified medical physician for the very first time.

“Working for a helicopter rescue service was so much fun, that is why I am back to do this again,” he said.

“We worked in mountainous snowy terrain. We had one memorable rescue which was an avalanche aerial and recovery outside of the town of Aspen."

“I was a paramedic back then and now I am a physician, so it’s a little bit different and it will be interesting working this time round with a different way of thinking.”

The team of recruits are currently undergoing LifeFlight’s intensive training course which enables the doctors to learn everything they will require to be a part of the elite medical team. The course finishes on Saturday August 5.

The new recruits will then join their new team on a minimum contract of six-months at their respective bases of operations in Brisbane, Maroochydore, Cairns, Rockhampton, Townsville.