Chief Medical Officer - Dr Allan MacKillop


Introducing LifeFlight's Chief Medical Officer - Dr Allan Mackillop

Dr Allan MacKillop

  • Specialist Anaesthetist
  • Specialist in Pain Medicine
  • Retrieval Physician
  • Retrieval Clinical Coordination
  • GPCAPT RAAF Specialist Reserve
  • Clinical Director Emergency Medicine and Aeromedical Evacuation
  • Health Reserves - Air Force
  • Chair ADF JHC Anaesthesia Consultative Group
  • Medical Director - Emergency Care - World Surf League

FOR LifeFlight's doctor Allan MacKillop, it all began more than 36 years ago with frequent phone calls in the middle of the night to attend the scene of horrific road accidents. That was how LifeFlight's Chief Medical Officer was introduced to LifeFlight.

Dr Al, as he's affectionately known, has been pivotal in shaping the advanced medical care provided by LifeFlight's medical team, including critical care doctors, intensive care nurses and QAS flight paramedics.

Back in the early 1980s, Dr Al was one of the only anaesthetists in the Gold Coast and Byron Bay area and one of a few doctors who volunteered their medical services to the community rescue helicopter service.

He was well known in the region and was often called by ambulance staff to assist at the scene of serious accidents.


Dr Al's First Minutes Matter


What should you do if your child displays symptoms of experiencing a seizure?

  1. Call Triple 0 and place your child in a seated position
  2. Turn your child onto their side and keep them away from sharp objects
  3. Check your child’s mouth to see if there is anything lodged in the airway

Some seizures in children will only involve short periods of unresponsiveness, and might not require immediate first aid. If possible, note the time that the seizure began, and how long it lasts. If it is the child’s first convulsive seizure, or if it lasts more than five minutes, call Triple 0 immediately. If the seizure stops within this time, follow up with a doctor’s visit.


Your 8-month old child is crawling on the floor when they suddenly start choking. What should your first response be?

  1. Call Triple 0
  2. Keep a close eye on the child in case symptoms worsen before taking action
  3. Check that the child’s airway is clear
  4. Start performing CPR - alternate between 5 chest thrusts and 5 back blows

Children in particular are susceptible to choking. While a blockage in the throat can usually be cleared with a forceful cough, serious cases where food or an object is blocking the airway can make it necessary to administer back blows. If this is unsuccessful, call Triple 0 as soon as possible, while starting CPR.


A baby’s responsiveness is checked by:

  1. Shaking the child and shouting
  2. Patting or tapping the child’s feet
  3. Splashing cold water on the child’s face

Checking your baby’s responsiveness following an accident can be done by patting the feet (which have sensitive reflex reactions at an early age) and gently tapping the chest or shoulders. If they do not react (moving or crying), immediately check their airway before starting CPR.


If your child is struggling to swim and begins to drown, you should immediately:

  1. Jump into the water
  2. Remove the child from the water and onto a flat surface if possible
  3. Call out to your child and encourage them to come to the water’s edge

Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in Australian children between the ages of 0-5. A family member is the first on the scene in most emergency situations. The first step is to remove your child from the water and place onto a flat surface if possible to perform CPR. Be aware of your own safety before jumping in – many people have suffered fatalities as a result of trying to save a drowning person.


If your child is if your child is unresponsive and not breathing normally, you should immediately:

  1. Commence CPR and call 000 as soon as possible
  2. Perform CPR for 1 to 2 minutes before dialling Triple 0
  3. Perform CPR and do not dial Triple 0

If your child is unconscious, roll them onto their side. Check they are breathing and that they have a pulse. If you have determined that your child is not breathing, you need to begin CPR immediately. While you may be afraid of hurting your child, it is important to apply force, starting the cycle of 30 compressions to two ventilations.


In which scenario should CPR be administered?

  1. If a child has drowned
  2. If your child has been knocked unconscious
  3. If your child has passed out from choking (after you have cleared the airway)
  4. If your child loses consciousness after swallowing poisonous substances
  5. All of the above

Typically, if the breathing and/or heartbeat in a baby or child stops, it’s the result of choking, suffocation, drowning, or another injury. Toddlers and children are more likely than adults to survive following immediate CPR because their bodies are more resilient than adults and because it’s usually an airway blockage that causes them to need CPR.


Children’s CPR should be considered if the child is less than how many years?

  1. 6
  2. 8
  3. 10
  4. 12

If the heart stops pumping, it is known as a cardiac arrest. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a combination of techniques designed to pump the heart to get blood circulating and deliver oxygen to the brain. How CPR should be performed differs depending on the age of your child. The best way to make sure that you’re current on proper CPR techniques for babies and young children is to take a CPR class.


What should you do if your child is suffering from a burn?

  1. Apply cool running water to the burn for 20-30 minutes
  2. Cover the burn using a clean dressing, a clean sheet or non-fluffy towel/tea towel
  3. Dial Triple 0 if the injury is severe
  4. All of the above

The three most important steps to take following a burn accident are to cool the burn by running water over the surface (without rubbing), cover the burn (with a clean bandage) to decrease the risk of pain and infection, and protect the burn to avoid further damage. If the burn is severe, contact your doctor or call Triple 0.


What should your first response be if your child suffers an allergic reaction?

  1. Perform CPR if your child is struggling to breathe
  2. Take no action – the allergic reaction will subside with time
  3. Call Triple 0 immediately and remove your child from the suspected cause of allergy

The most common causes of allergy in children are eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, cow’s milk, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Other causes are bee or other insect bites, and some medications such as antibiotics or anaesthetics. Sever allergies may require medical attention to administer adrenaline.


If your child has experienced a fall from a significant distance, it is important to:

  1. Call your doctor if you have concerns of injury and keep a close eye on the child for the next 24 hours
  2. Take your child to the hospital if they are vomiting, changing in colour, showing unusual drowsiness, having difficulty breathing, or their pupils are unequal
  3. Avoid moving your child if there is a suspected head or spinal injury
  4. All of the above

Regardless of the type of fall or other accident that has occurred, it is possible that your child has suffered a concussion.  It is important to keep a close watch for symptoms of more severe brain trauma, which will require immediate medical attention. If in doubt, call Triple 0 or visit your doctor as soon as possible.