Medical services in the ouback

Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 11:54
ThreadID: 132928 Views:4284 Replies:11 FollowUps:8
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As a medical professional based in the west kimberley I'm constantly astonished at the ignorance of many campers as the the level of medical services available in regional areas of Australia. People need to understand that in many areas you need a degree of self reliance and intelligence, if you have a pré existing medical condition be aware there are no surgeons, there are waiting lists to see gp's. If you need to see a doctor every few weeks don't think a doctor will be available to see you as they wont. Ask your doctor before you leave sydney, Melbourne to get everything sorted before to arrive in the rural areas as the support services you may need are not close or cheap. I.e. What happens to your caravan if you get airlifted out for a heart problem that was pre existing ??
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 13:02

Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 13:02
I don't expect services to be available, but nor would I expect people with health issues to sit at home until they die either.
Be prepared, take what precautions you can, pay your insurance and make sure the wife can drive the rig. Mine can, and does.

OKA196 motorhome
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Follow Up By: aaron c4 - Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 13:12

Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 13:12
We have 3 cars dumped in the carpark and there were 2 last year from people unprepared with treatable conditions
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 13:57

Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 13:57
Good point Peter about having a driver in reserve. We take a back-up for just about everything else these days, but often overlook a back-up driver. On a couple of occasions John or I have needed some minor medical attention while in the outback and on both occasions were impressed by the attention we received at either a medical centre or the hospital. But as one who takes regular medication I have sometimes found it difficult to fill a script, now I get my local chemist to give me a supply that will last for the duration of the trip - a bit more bulk to carry but better than having to wait or chase around for that essential tablet.

I do agree about the need for self reliance but neither do I think that sensibly prepared folk should be deterred from going remote. My take on it is that should things go totally pear shaped then we have been doing what we love, and that is much better sitting at home wondering what might have been. Ones attitude to death changes the closer you approach it perhaps.

J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Friday, Jul 08, 2016 at 09:06

Friday, Jul 08, 2016 at 09:06
Ken Tame insurance through the CMCA will recover the vehicle in case of a medical emergency.

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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 14:03

Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 14:03
Hi aaron,

I hear what you are saying and assure you that we personally are prepared and very self-reliant. I think most people who frequent this Forum are also.

You are perhaps seeing those who are uninformed, unprepared, and not self reliant. We do see them on here also, asking questions about "how far is it from A to B" etc indicating that they either have no map or cannot read one. One can only wonder how knowledgable and prepared they are with other matters. Alas, I'm afraid there will always be those.

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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Thursday, Jul 07, 2016 at 15:34

Thursday, Jul 07, 2016 at 15:34
We maintain the car to "bring us home" not to "get us there".

A satellite phone is under the front seat with a list of medical contacts, both national and "local" to the planned route, and recovery, SES etc contacts for the route. I have issues and need to be able to call for aid and my own doctor. We also travel solo.

We are prepared to pay what it costs, insurance gaps etc or whatever. Not about to dump anything. If you can't afford it then please go elsewhere and find an interest that you can fully afford.

It's the responsible thing to do. Not just for us, but for those who come later.

I must agree with Allan. Asking some basic questions about how far, how to get from a to b etc sometimes does make me wonder about the skills and "sense" of questioner both in planning and actually "on the road". I never mind the ones about today's or the "latest" conditions I am only too happy to help. Note that I won't toss them off with that annoying phrase "Google is your friend". But I will show them how to find it out themselves.

All one should be asking about is the recent and most up to date information that you won't get from a book or map printed months if not months then years past.

One post recently asked about facilities at Rabbit Flat. Excellent question as some maps still show it. But there is nothing there apart from the bush, sand and wind.

And I have been known for suggesting , very politely mind you, that some try something less demanding before attempting the extremes.

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Reply By: rocco2010 - Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 14:58

Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 14:58
I once had a discussion about this with an older couple who were virtually full time travellers and away from their home in Queensland for months on end. I was interested to know how they managed it in case I found myself able to do the same.

They explained how they travelled with doctors letters and organised prescriptions in advance etc.

But the woman said she was outraged, and she was still seriously angry retelling the tale, when she got to Karratha and wasn't able to see a woman GP at short notice.

Some people are hard to please

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Follow Up By: Colcam42 - Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 17:24

Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 17:24
When my partner took ill in Karratha, with two short hospital admissions, we were very impressed with the medical attentipon that she got, much more personal than in the busy city hospital. Can't speak highly enough of the staff, doctors and admin the same. In good hands we were,
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Follow Up By: rocco2010 - Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 17:39

Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 17:39
Good to hear that.
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Reply By: RobAck - Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 15:01

Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 15:01
aaron a good point to raise and many potential travellers use this and other forums to plan their big trip. I suggest you also look at mentioning this matter on the various grey nomad forums as well to try and spread the word.

As a person with pre-existing medical issues, none major but can stop us travelling, we are currently in Broome and have been very impressed with the triaging of one issue and the subsequent pain management regime that will allow us to get to Perth which is the closest point I can get a ultra sound guided cortisone injection for a serious sciatic condition. Before we left I had to have one of these injections and we knew how long it would last so did our homework.

So yes we are prepared but I do agree in the last ten weeks of travel we have found many other travellers of all ages and demographics who really don't have much idea of their own administration and care and are happily blaming those around them rather than accept responsibility

Spread the word as I agree it is important but don't expect everyone to hear


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Reply By: Alloy c/t - Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 17:23

Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 17:23
Terrorist season is upon us , where I live we have a PHC [ wife is the Don ] , our static population is around 100 in town and the surrounding 'catchment' means we provide medical service to roughly 300 , now during terrorist season these figures do not really double as such but the workload and frustration increases tenfold , why ?? Because it seems during the season terrorist deem it necessary to inundate the PHC for even the mildest of conditions, e.g. 'got a splinter in my hand and don't have any tweezers ' or stubbed my toe so can you do an X-ray , [ all after hours ] + as Aaron c4 puts it medications …. we are not a chemists shop !! We carry what is regularly required in the quantities to service our population + a % so for your own safety get your GP to organise with your regular Chemist your requirements before you leave .
AnswerID: 602153

Reply By: Ozi M - Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 17:28

Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 17:28
Hi Aaron,
Very valid reminder but most people on this particular forum would be prepared, however there are a lot more newbies on the caravan and grey nomad forums.

Caravanersforum has a lot of newbies every week.

Mods: Feel free to remove link if preferred but as it is medical is it OK ?
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Thursday, Jul 07, 2016 at 14:30

Thursday, Jul 07, 2016 at 14:30
In particular check out the many camping (freecamping) and caravaning groups on Facebook. That is where you will find those who are seriously not prepared. I think for some the motto is "have wikicamps, will travel"

J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
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Reply By: Baz - The Landy - Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 18:08

Wednesday, Jul 06, 2016 at 18:08
Consideration of medical issues forms part of our pre-trip planning and continues throughout our trips.

But this is a timely reminder to all, the key thing is to be prepared by having a plan.

As a family we are members of Global Rescue, an international service that provides us with medical evacuation to our hospital of choice from anywhere in the world.

Cheers, Baz - The Landy
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Reply By: MUZBRY- Life member(Vic) - Thursday, Jul 07, 2016 at 14:39

Thursday, Jul 07, 2016 at 14:39
Gday aaron
I stand in line here in Melbourne , to book to see my doc , i have to wate two weeks , so i hope to still be sick when the two weeks is up, and then to see a specialist, another six weeks, one has to hope that we havn't heald before we spend all that money to see the specialist. As far as a splinter, my little boy had half a log stuck in his leg and had to wate while all the staff at emergency came to have a look. Its not all roses in the big smoke , you can only do what you can, when you can, and smile.
Great place to be Mt Blue Rag 27/12/2012

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Reply By: Member - Rob D (NSW) - Thursday, Jul 07, 2016 at 19:01

Thursday, Jul 07, 2016 at 19:01
Hi Aaron C4,

Thank you for submitting this post; it may not be necessary for some, but it certainly raises awareness of the issue. In spite of some of the comments, not everything can be planned for.

Last year my wife, who suffers from severe Asthma, woke me up at 2:30 AM in Barcaldine, struggling to breathe. Fortunately there was a hospital close by and everything turned out OK in the end. We had planned our trip so that all of our overnight stops were in towns that had hospitals.
If you relax at a faster pace you can get more relaxation in for a given time.
Regards Rob

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Reply By: Member - Errol (York WA) - Thursday, Jul 07, 2016 at 23:17

Thursday, Jul 07, 2016 at 23:17
I must be lucky, I travel with the don's TIC. What she has in our kit, I'm sure she can handle most things that happen on a trip.
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Reply By: Member - John and Lynne - Friday, Jul 08, 2016 at 09:40

Friday, Jul 08, 2016 at 09:40
A very good reminder. We really do need to take responsibility for ourselves and do some simple planning like bulk prescriptions and a decent first aid kit just to start. We have met people who don't even carry a bandaid! It is vital that you are not dependant on only one driver. Something to remember too is the dentist! These are even harder to find outback so have a thorough check up before you leave and ask your dentist about first aid if you are getting to the decrepit stage! Eat carefully and avoid pork crackling! "Dentist in a box" can be useful too. It is also a good idea to carry spare spectacles! Oh the joys of age! But we don't stay home in fear of what might go wrong either! Lynne
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Friday, Jul 08, 2016 at 10:35

Friday, Jul 08, 2016 at 10:35
Thanks for the reference to "Dentist in a Box".
We carry a comprehensive first aid kit but there is little in there to help with dental issues other than analgesics.
Last year heading to the Pilbara I experienced gum pain at Coober Pedy. Thought it was an infection but with no dentist in town the pharmacist provided some analgesic gel to rub on the gum. That got me to Newman where a dentist provided antibiotics to get me home for the needed major dental surgery.
Now, as it happened, the Dentist in a Box would not have helped but the incident did highlight the possible risk of dental issues so I have ordered one today. I will add a tube of SM-33 Gel to the kit.

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