New LifeFlight doctors ready to start saving lives across Queensland

The LifeFlight Retrieval Medicine recruits had to escape a mock underwater helicopter crash, be winched into a chopper and respond to high pressure scenarios, in preparation for working in the air and remote locations.

The doctors were the first to use eight new high-tech, interactive mannequins, which made the clinical skills training program, more realistic than ever.

Director of Training and Education Dr Jeff Hooper said some of the dummies are so advanced, it’s almost lifelike.

“They can talk, they can make vomiting noises, they have a pulse and a blood pressure, they’ve got really good vital signs, you can see their heart rhythm, you can shock them and do all sorts of medical and trauma based care on them,” Dr Hooper said. 

While LifeFlight’s Critical Care Doctors have always undergone intensive training, this was the first time the clinical skills program had been run in-house, at the recently expanded LifeFlight Training Academy.

Swedish doctor Tina Bachrach, has moved her family halfway across the world, for the experience. 

She will work aboard the Brisbane-based RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter. 

“This is the first time I’ve seen the inside of a helicopter, so I hope I’ll like it,” she said.

LifeFlight’s new Roaming Registrar, Dr Ola Sorensen has also travelled from Sweden.

He will work at aeromedical helicopter bases through-out Queensland, including RACQ LifeFlight  Rescue Brisbane.

He said he is looking forward to the challenges of pre-hospital care. 

“In the hospital you can be very comfortable, everyone is serving you and you have access to all you need. In the air you don’t have that, so I guess you have to plan a little bit more,” Dr Sorensen said. 

The 28 new LifeFlight doctors starting work across Queensland, began their aviation training with a splash, at Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET).

To prepare recruits for the unlikely event of an aircraft going into water, they were strapped into a metal helicopter simulator and dunked into a pool, before having to safely find their way to the surface.

“This training is developed to give them the confidence to stay in a really good brace position, survive the impact and then stay orientated to work themselves to find those exits and get themselves out,” HUET Manager Mick Dowling said.

The challenges continued at LifeFlight’s Archerfield hangar, where doctors started getting used to life above ground, during winch training.

Chief Aircrew Officer Simon Gray said winching allows the doctors to be inserted into locations, which are otherwise difficult to access. 

“It’s the first time that a lot of these people have seen a helicopter up close when it’s operating, so there’s a lot of noise, a lot of excitement,” Mr Gray said. 

The recruits also practiced treating patients in stressful environments, including a noisy house party and on a ship and learnt about road crashes from Queensland Fire & Emergency Service (QFES) personnel.

The LifeFlight Critical Care Doctors were carefully selected from around Australia and the world, to ensure Queensland’s aeromedical services are bringing the highest quality care to patients.