OUR SAY: No guarantees, but medical helicopter should make a difference

THE family of a jockey who died from head injuries sustained in a race fall will never know whether faster transport to hospital would have saved him but they do know the same anguishing delay should not exist in the future.

Many people have been responsible for persuading the O’Farrell Government to introduce a 24-hour medical helicopter service for the region but none would have had greater motivation than the family of Reece Potter.

Mr Potter fell in a horse race and lapsed into a coma on the Tottenham race track. The restricted hours of the helicopter service at the time and the flight log of its pilot meant that a road ambulance was dispatched to evacuate Mr Potter instead of the helicopter.

It was exactly the sort of scenario advocates of a round-the-clock medical helicopter have been citing for years as justification to extend the limited service.

The Orange-based 24-hour helicopter service announced last week does not come with any guarantees.


There will be occasions in the future when bad weather or competing emergencies mean a critical patient will miss out, but that is a far cry from the state of the service at the time of Mr Potter’s death.

It must have been distressing beyond words for his family to know that a helicopter was not coming to rush Mr Potter to a metropolitan hospital because of the restricted nature of the service in the central west. Instead the helicopter sat on its pad at the base in Orange.

As in all medical emergencies the family members of the ill or injured party want only the best possible care for their loved one.

If the patient receives that then no matter what the outcome they can take comfort in the fact that everything possible was done to save a life.

A coroner’s court in Parkes heard this week a faster response time may not have made much difference for Mr Potter.

Next time with a helicopter at the ready it just might.

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