Queen’s Birthday long weekend in the NT is a great time to get out of town, the dry season has turned on almost perfect weather – maximum 31 degrees and a refreshing 18 degrees at night. It’s the ideal situation for a camp site with a log fire and a relax at the Douglas Hot Springs . Only 200km outside of Darwin along the Stuart Highway it’s an easy drive and the roads are sealed most of the way. The last turn off runs for 7km and that’s an unsealed dusty road, turn your lights on and slow down, there’s a couple of sneaky dips and a shallow creek crossing so drive carefully and be mindful of oncoming traffic.
The site caters for everyone – from tents to caravans, you can even run a generator in part of the camp site, there are showers and toilets, but it does get busy and unfortunately there are a lot of disrespectful people who like to leave a mess so we set up our own shower so we didn’t have to deal with it. Probably half of Darwin had the same idea as us last weekend – the need to get away with family and friends, unwind, chillout and sit in the thermal springs with a cool beverage so the site was jammed with close to 1,000 people crammed tent peg to tent peg!
Anyway, the reason for my story is tell you about something scary that happened over the weekend and to hopefully pass on a very valuable lesson. One of the campers had a sick child who developed a fever and the parents did what they thought was best and took the baby down to the water to cool her off and try to bring down her temperature. This dramatic drop caused the 18 month old to have a febrile seizure and collapse, fortunately there were people with first aid training nearby who were able to get the situation under control and bring the little girl back to consciousness. Further medical attention was required but as there is no signal or phone reception in the area a satellite phone was used to call for emergency help and a Careflight helicopter was dispatched.
When the helicopter arrived we watched it circling the camp site looking for somewhere to land, precious moments were wasted while the pilot dipped and circled but was unable to find a big enough clearing. My husband read a news article a couple of weeks ago about Careflight rescuing a man injured in a motorbike accident and they advised in the story that CareFlight monitor the UHF channel 16 to help aircrew establish direct contact with people on the ground.
After Steve tuned in to Channel 16 the pilot was able to direct Steve to an empty field outside of the camp site and for the parents to meet him there with the baby to receive medical attention.
Without this valuable communication between Steve and the pilot, critical care to save this child would have been further delayed. Please, if you have a UHF, remember Channel 16 – it could save someone’s life.