Territory Stories

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 21 October 2008



Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 21 October 2008

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Parliamentary Record 2


Debates for 11th Assembly 2008 - 2012; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 11th Assembly 2008 - 2012




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Tuesday 21 October 2008 507 The accident that happened in September 2008 with Adrian Phillips and his crew of hard-working Central Australian people was a tragic accident. It involved a car and a beast that they were trying to catch. Those men are real tough ringers. They are true ocker Australian men. They have worked across the Top End, the central regions as well and were amazing people to listen to. Their story really hit home. As many of you by now have worked out, I have spent time working in central Australia in extremely remote locations. You do feel that remoteness when you are out there by yourself, or with a few of you. You know that you are isolated. You know that help is not going to come in a hurry. These strong men thought they had it all worked out. They took as many reasonable precautions as they could. They had satellite phones, a helicopter that was helping in mustering, and several vehicles and many men working. They had chainsaws. They had first aid kits. They knew what they were doing. They were not amateurs. They had personal plans in place with their families so that if they did not turn up by sunset, their families knew to start panicking, to set the alarm off, to get help. That is what they have based much of their life on for a long time - that the help is out there. We failed them astronomically. It was a disgrace. Coming from an emergency services perspective, I was disgusted to listen to and hear the torment these men have gone through, since that time, because of our failings. These men did a fantastic job. I have had to resuscitate people too many times; had to deal with too many other things that do not need to be mentioned here. But John Armstrong Jnr, the pilot, from what I can work out, is a very capable pilot. John Armstrong Snr is also a very respected person within the Rotor element of Northern Australia. These men knew what they were doing. An accident happened and they were left stranded. At approximately 4.45 pm, the accident occurred and as a result the men suffered injuries. The helicopter landed very shortly after, very close by and they rang 000. They were not far from Katherine; a 20-minute flight. The cost of the flight was irrelevant. They could not care less. This was about helping their fallen friends who were injured on the ground alongside them and they were left stranded by our system. They deserve an apology from that system because what happened is unacceptable. The sequence of events should be well recorded as the DMO would have to keep records as part of policy, I would presume. 000 keeps records and the phone conversations will be recorded and could be brought up, if needed, by the coroner. But to ring 000 and get no real response or: Righto, someone will ring you back someone will ring you back, and to keep getting this answer is appalling. We now have a man whose mates are fighting for his life he has lost his ability to fight for his own life. It does not matter how tough you are - that is scary business. It is soul destroying. He will be left with a scar that you cannot erase. The help is there. They always thought it was there but it was not. It was not for them. Adrian did a fantastic job of trying to coordinate what he had - he offered everything at his disposal. John Armstrong Jnr and his father, John Armstrong Snr, offered everything available they could muster but our system failed them. We were the ones; the government failed them dramatically. There is a time when you have to make a decision on whether resuscitation continues and the DMO is definitely the expert in that field. That decision was made, but it is hard to tell someone who has been friends with someone for a long time, to give up working on that person. You stop resuscitating them because they are gone. The lack of tact that was portrayed, and I can only say portrayed, was poor. The refusal to allow a doctor or a paramedic from Katherine to fly in a helicopter of a commercial pilot was inexcusable in any circumstances. 000 was called - we are there to rescue, to save peoples lives and we failed. Our police systems in this area have failed to respond to certain instances to protect the public. They could have flown him there, picked up a paramedic with his paramedic kit, a nice pretty red bag containing a lot of lifesaving equipment, and brought him to the site quite safely to start immediate treatment. Forty minutes could have passed by, let us say, for the sake of this, so by 5.30 pm there could have been a paramedic on-site - worst case scenario. Why was it that no one was sent in that capacity? I am very grateful to the medical staff who were sent from a nearby community with their community ambulance. They did not know exactly what they were going to. They were going to a very remote area of rugged terrain. The Maranboy police were sent, which was fantastic. I have worked with the Officer-in-Charge of that station, Carney Ganley, and I can guarantee you that man would have given every ounce of his blood and sweat to do his job for the people he went there to help and protect. From what I have been told, that is exactly what he did. Over the next few hours, the Officer-in-Charge of Maranboy Police Station, Carney Ganley, the medical teams that were sent - and mind you, they did not get there until midnight, they were fairly late on the scene and the ringers on the site,