Ningaloo Coast - Incidents & Illness

Monday, Jun 26, 2006 at 12:12

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

Yes - there were 2 incidents to talk of, and we've learned from them both. The first incident involved a fishing hook - the type with a triple barb attached to a lure. The two mums were out fishing together (trolling) and both rods went off at the same time. The fish (mackeral and flathead) were the best catch of the day so there was a bit of excitement to bring them in - in the fuss, the mackeral was grabbed around the body so it wouldn't get away but in doing so the two exposed triple-barb hooks hanging off the lure lodged into the hand. One of the triple-barbs embedded deep into the soft fleshy part of her palm near the wrist causing extreme agony, the other triple-barb fell free but the third was in the fish's mouth. As the fish wriggled the embedded triple-barb lodged in further and although they removed the fish and saved their catch, it was apparent that better tools and some local anaesthetic would be needed to remove the hook from the hand - this was going to hurt! Back at shore (note that the injured person was the only skilled boat driver), the husbands could not stomach the necessary removal of the fish hook and the UHF was used to call for any medical personnel nearby. And here's the amazing thing - camped just 1km up the track was a pair of paramedics in their caravan. Fully equipped with local anaesthetics, medical instruments and skilled in simple surgical procedures, the hook was swiftly removed with minimal pain and little to no tearing or damage to the hand. That was just pure luck - and it makes you realise how easy you can hurt yourself.

The second incident happened on Day 8 - the other mum was enjoying an afternoon of ski-biscuit fun when a particuarly big crash put her out of action for the afternoon. A few hours later it became apparent she was headed for an ear infection so she became self-medicating with available pain-killers. After a few days of codene based painkillers the pain was still unbearable and now she was feeling the effects of too much medication and knew she needed medical help. A half day's drive to Exmouth (the only hospital in the region) was very painful, as was the hour long wait to see a doctor but finally she was prescribed antibiotics (non-penicillin based as she is allergic to penicillin). The course however was short - only 5 days and the infection was still prevalent by the end of the course, so she travelled to Coral Bay to see if she could more anitibiotics there. The Nursing Post in Coral Bay is not always attended so it took many hours to get treatment, which was done via HF to the RFDS base who agreed to prescribe more antibiotics. By the end of the 3 week trip, the ear had not fully recovered and it greatly affected her enjoyment of her stay on the beach with wind, etc all causing earing and balance difficulties and of course alcohol was off limits so it was little fun.

The lessons learned were: for any remote trip, whether be it to Desert or Beach regions you should have a suitable first aid kit that includes prescription and a filled course of suitable antibiotics for each person in your group along with local anaethetics. This may be not easy to obtain, so well before your trip departure talk to your GP who will give you the best advice and resources. Also - the non-boat driving female has sinced done her RST skippers course (actually, also bought a boat). No point in using another person's boat if you can't assist when another skipper is injured!
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
Always working not enough travelling!
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