The Northern Territory news Mon 4 Feb 2019
The Northern Territory news; NewspaperNT
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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin
News Corp Australia
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News Corp Australia
14 NEWS MONDAY FEBRUARY 4 2019 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 UNTOLD STORIES OF AUSTRALIAS TOUGHEST FIRST RESPONDERS Something terrible happened to you Ida THE paramedics pagers simultaneously shrieked at 10.30pm. We were standing in the staff kitchen at the St John Critical Response Units headquarters in Alice Springs, just returned from another job, biting into Subway sandwiches bought during a lull a few hours earlier. Paul Reeves, the desert towns only qualified Intensive Care Paramedic (ICP) declared: Weve got a job. His mentee and colleague Caitlin Little a trainee ICP tossed her half-eaten sandwich into the bin and ran for the door. Inside the CRUs Toyota Fortuner the radio came to life and a dispatcher in the Darwin communications centre gave an address and preliminary job details. Within seconds the crew sped out of the station gate in a well-practised routine. A white-knuckled grip on the passenger-side headrest in the back seat provides the only semblance of stability as the ambulance heads towards a one alpha. One alphas are the highest priority cases and the responding crew has just two minutes from the triple-0 call being made to get on the road. Lights flashing and sirens blaring, Paul puts decades of emergency driving into studied practice. Hes a veteran paramedic from the UK and has worked in trauma response in war zones and with tactical police all over the world. In some cases minutes really do matter, he said. And in cardiac arrest events survivability decreases 10 per cent every minute the heart has stopped. So we try to shave off time during the emergency drive while making sure everyone inside and outside the vehicle is kept safe in the process. We approached a packed Uncles Tavern near the town centre. Drinkers crammed into its courtyard barely batted an eyelid at the ambulance, before it sharply turned down a laneway. The paramedics slowed to scan the surrounds, but could see no patient. Frustration born of receiving incorrect or incomplete infor mation was obvious as the paramedics radioed the communications centre seeking confirmation of the address. Then, at the end of the lane, emergency vehicle lights could be seen, a few blocks away. General duties police, mounted police and detectives swarmed the scene. An ambulance carrying two junior qualified paramedics had already arrived at Leichhardt Terrace, a main drag that runs adjacent to the dry Todd River. There were people in the middle of the road crouched on the ground. The CRU crew mounted a kerb and the paramedics grabbed their colour-coded medical kits and swung into action. An Aboriginal woman was curled in a foetal position on the road, her bloodied face against the bitumen. A heavily tattooed European man in jeans and a T-shirt cradled her as she groaned in pain. Youre all right darlin, Ive got ya, stay with me, he repeated. The woman, Idas (not her real name) hair was matted and there were fresh wounds on her forehead. But it was the deep gashes on the tops of her hands that were most shocking. The exposed bone and tendons were crusted with gravel from the roadside. Police peeled the man who they referred to as an enthusiastic bystander away from the woman while the four paramedics began their assessment by torchlight. The man was briefly questioned by a policewoman but told her he didnt know Ida. He said he was on his way home in a cab from the pub when he saw her in the headlights and jumped out. He stood back and watched while paramedics tried to calm her, administer pain relief and assess her injuries. Ida grew increasingly agitated and screamed in pain, before yelling f*** off as paramedics bandaged her badly injured hands. Being drunk is noted but then put to the side, Paul later told me. However, we remain alert to the fact that signs of something serious could be masked by drunkenness. The few times that Ida did try to move, she couldnt muster the strength. Ida, Ida, relax down Ida. Relax. Keep your head still, paramedic Monique Barnett pleaded. Were going to give you something for your pain. People watched from footpaths and the shadows of the dry Todd River bed. Police initially suspected the woman had been victim of a hit and run but there were no witnesses. The paramedics had their doubts. However, they still applied a pelvic binder to her hips to prevent possible internal bleeding from the potential impact from a vehicle. For about 10 minutes the four paramedics worked to stabilise Ida, enough to move her. They put in an intravenous tube and gave her fentanyl and ketamine to sedate her and subdue the pain. Police helped the four paramedics lift the woman on to a stretcher and slide her into the back of the ambulance. Caitlin, Monique and her crewmate Amy McCaffrey continued treating and at CAITLIN Little, 28, always wanted to work remote. Four years ago she got her wish. There are few places on the planet as remote as Alice Springs. Before that, Caitlin (pictured left with her dog) was a paramedic in Victoria. I planned to come to the Northern Territory for six to 12 months but really liked the work, Caitlin said. Being remote and resource-depleted presents amazing challenges and I like having to be resourceful. She was named the Northern Territorys Paramedic of the Year in 2017 and will be a fully qualified Intense Care Paramedic by September. During this phase of her training she works alongside Paul Reeves, taking the lead on most jobs, under his supervision. As an ICP supervisor I want to give Caitlin as much support but again remembering that shes not junior. Shes a senior medic, Paul said. Soon, Caitlin can respond to jobs without Pauls supervision but will call him for advice when required. I dont feel nervous or even apprehensive, she said. Im well supported and I know that even if Pauls on days off and I do have a difficult job that I want to talk over I can KRISTIN SHORTEN Caitlin planned to stay for a year but fell in love with the desert towns unique demands Paramedics treat Ida by torchlight on an Alice Springs road, and (right) Caitlin Little treats a patient, and the route the paramedics took to find Ida laying on the road. Pictures: KRISTIN SHORTEN Embedded with the outback paramedics, KRISTIN SHORTEN witnesses the race to a victim of evil Read more: ntnews.com.au