Newborn’s airlift inspires grandmother’s generous donation

A Toowoomba grandmother, who donated $6000 towards a high-tech training mannequin, has named it after her grandson, who was airlifted by RACQ LifeFlight Rescue, when he was just 24 hours old.

The state of the art dummy, which simulates a 9-month-old baby, will be used for training LifeFlight Critical Care doctors, who often treat critically ill or injured pediatric patients.

The dummy can have a collapsed lung, it can be injected and ‘treated’ with real fluids, its pupils react to light and can simulate a head injury, it can have a swollen throat and can be used to practise inserting bone needles.

It also cries and makes noises, which makes the training experience for the doctors as realistic as possible.

Jane Barham won naming rights, after her business, Barham Chiropractic, pledged the highest figure, of $6000, towards covering the cost of the mannequin, at the Toowoomba 2019 LifeFlight Ball.

Her grandson, Charlie Barham, was flown from Toowoomba to Brisbane almost a year ago.

“When we got the chance to donate to this SimBaby we took it with both hands, to show how grateful we are and to thank LifeFlight, as well as to help train the medical team,” Jane said.

Almost seventy other local residents and businesses also contributed – not only raising the $66,000 needed for the mannequin, but tens of thousands of dollars more towards supporting LifeFlight.

“It felt lovely to be able to give back and it was such a great community effort, because we were just a small part. Thank you so much to everyone who donated through that pledge, it was mind blowing. People who were here from other cities were amazed by Toowoomba and what we can do.”

LifeFlight Critical Care Doctor Chris Jarvis said the SimBaby allows medical staff to practise in immersive scenarios, so they’re more prepared for real, high-risk medical emergencies, involving babies.

“Some of the hardest things we have to deal with as doctors are very sick kids,” he said.

“When they’re tiny they can be a lot harder to treat than an adult. This allows us to practise those things in regular sessions here and at the LifeFlight Training Academy, so when we are called to these children we’re more prepared and able to deal with them.”

LifeFlight South West Regional Advisory Committee Chair Mike Stewart said the Toowoomba community’s support of this project was remarkable.