WA’s life-saving treasure chests

Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
Ben Parkhurst and son Liam with the medical chest stationed at a small town in the Mid West Region of Western Australia.
Camera IconBen Parkhurst and son Liam with the medical chest stationed at a small town in the Mid West Region of Western Australia. Credit: Tina Schroeder

Being kilometres away from medical help is a worrying factor for many living in regional WA.

That’s why Royal Flying Doctor Service have created medical chests for remote and isolated areas and there are four right here in the Great Southern.

The chests are held at locations further than 80km from the closest medical attention, and they have proven to be useful.

They were used 11 times in the Great Southern in the last financial year.

While the locations of the chests cannot be shared, residents can be comforted in knowing that there is one not too far away in an emergency situation.

Looked after by a custodian who has regular contact with our RFDS doctors, each chest contains an extensive range of medicines and non-pharmaceutical items, with the ability to treat medical conditions from a minor wound to heart attack.

RFDS medical chest co-ordinator Rosemarie Adams said the program was an essential service for remote communities, making treatment accessible to those who live hundreds of kilometres away from a healthcare provider.

“There are many cases where people in these communities — residents, travellers and workers, are saved a long-distance trip to the doctor because of the range of items provided in the medical chest,” she said.

“If people are in a situation where they require an aero medical retrieval by the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the patient can be prepared for the retrieval and receive preliminary treatment from the medical chest contents until the aircraft arrives.

“Our medical chest custodians play a vital role in administering treatment to our remote patients. A RFDS doctor conducts a remote consultation via our telehealth service, prescribing medication using item identification numbers with the on-site custodian.”

The four chests in the Great Southern make up a small portion of the 500 chests located across the State at national parks, mine sites, stations and rural communities.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails