Patient Story -

Hiker suffers heart issues

Dr Lionel Hartley has been a keen hiker for most of his life. He and his hiking friends planned to walk Brisbane’s Scenic Rim over the 2006 Easter break... a journey that landed him in a CareFlight helicopter.

Brisbane’s Scenic Rim is a picturesque, but challenging four-day hike over nine mountains.

It was Sunday morning at the start of day three. The first two days of hiking had gone well, and they had a big day ahead. Straight away, they were faced with some rough rainforest, walking on rocks and dodging vines, with their heavy packs on their backs. It was testing stuff, but it was what they had all prepared for.

At about 8am, Lionel began to feel chest pain. Ten years earlier he had experienced heart trouble, but after losing some weight and working on his fitness, he had been in fine health.

Lionel and his three companions stopped walking immediately. He sat down and rested while they all decided on a course of action.

They all agreed that he couldn’t continue on the walk because the risk to his health was too great. They also recognised that the walk out of the area would take two days, whichever way they went. Being familiar with the area, they knew that mobile phones were out of range for most of the walk, so they hadn’t brought them.

The group decided that two of the party would continue on to get help, and Lionel and one person would walk back downhill to the open space they had camped the night before.

The two continued on the walk and met a group with a mobile phone within a few hours. They hiked to the top of the closest mountain to call for help using the mobile phone, and it worked. They gave the coordinates where Lionel was waiting.

At around midday that day Lionel heard a chopper approaching. The RACQ CareFlight Queensland medical team were winched down to Lionel, and he was airlifted to hospital where he stayed for three days, being diagnosed with angina. The first thing he did when he got back home was to make a donation to RACQ CareFlight. Lionel still loves to go hiking in the bush, but knows to take it easy these days. His angina has not troubled him since that episode.