Dr Yvette van de Riet. Photo/LifeFlight Rescue
Dr Yvette van de Riet. Photo/LifeFlight Rescue

RACQ LifeFlight welcomes new critical care doctors

Toowoomba's newest RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Critical Care Doctors have taken flight, with one doctor travelling all the way from the Netherlands, in the midst of the pandemic, to help save lives across South West Queensland.

Critical Care specialist Dr Yvette van de Riet rehomed her beloved cat, flew across the world and endured hotel quarantine, just in time to start LifeFlight's world renowned aeromedical training program.

"I didn't know if I was going to make it here, with COVID-19 changing things so quickly there was always something new coming through to make us worried, but it all went fine," Dr van de Riet said.


She's no stranger to quickly adapting to new work environments, with previous experience in pre-hospital care, as well as in working in rural parts of Tanzania and the Dutch Caribbean.

"So that was kind of where my passion started with working abroad and just getting things done with small teams," she said.

Just days after coming out of two-weeks of hotel quarantine, Dr van de Riet was immersed in aviation training, learning how to winch and treat patients, in the confines of a helicopter cabin.

In a first for the aeromedical service, the Retrieval Registrars performed their aviation and winch training on the new Land Rover LifeFlight Special Mission helicopter.

This enabled the Special Mission helicopter crew to be ready to go above and beyond, by further refining their skills and continuing their training regimen, while allowing the fleet of RACQ LifeFlight Rescue community helicopters to remain online and available for lifesaving missions.

"Being able to winch doctors to scenes means we can take advanced care to anyone in need, even if they're in hard to access locations," RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Chief Aircrew Officer Simon Gray said.

"For doctors who have never been near a helicopter before, winching can seem very confrontational at first, but we gradually build up the training, so they grasp it fairly quickly."

The doctors also learnt how to save their own lives, in the unlikely event of a helicopter crashing into water.

The trainees were literally thrown in the deep end, during Helicopter Underwater Escape Training.

"It's highly unlikely an aircraft will crash in the water, whether that's an ocean, lake or dam, but these doctors need to know how to mentally and physically orientate themselves while underwater, in the event that it does happen," LifeFlight Training Academy Sea Survival Instructor Jenevieve Peacock said.

The Retrieval Registrars learnt specific pre-hospital and retrieval clinical skills and put them into practice in high-pressure scenarios at the Queensland Combined Emergency Services Academy at Whyte Island, in Brisbane.

The majority of the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Critical Care Doctors' work is performed on behalf of Queensland Health, under a ten-year service agreement.

To support the LifeFlight Foundation visit: here

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