DOCTOR Ian Carter hung up his helmet for the last time yesterday after 1000 flights and 20 years working on the Orange-based retrieval helicopter.
Dr Carter has seen the service evolve over many years to now become a 24-hour service and, as a anaesthetist based out of Orange hospital who is part of the consultants’ roster for the aircraft, he will now focus on his work at the hospital.
With Orange now the major trauma hospital for the Western NSW Local Health District he will continue to care for critically injured patients who are flown in by the service to Orange hospital.
“It is just so much busier now than it used to be - no doubt because Orange is a trauma centre,” he said.
“We have had some really challenging cases and of course we have to go to some horrific accidents.
“It is always difficult when children are involved.”
However Dr Carter said for professionals confronted with the trauma of accidents it is important to not take work home.
“We are trained to switch off - you just have to,” he said. “In my case I like to listen to music.”
However he says with the system in place there is always an opportunity to check on the outcome of patients.
“You always wonder if someone made it,” he said. “We have a process where we have to follow up 24 hours after a person has reached hospital.
“It is about ensuring we always used the appropriate equipment, procedures and communication for the optimum outcome for our patients.”
Dr Carter said when the helicopter service was first introduced by CareFlight (later to be taken over by NSW Ambulance) he didn’t have any issues transitioning to treating patients while in the air.
“The pilots and crew are just all so professional and the paramedics are excellent,” he said.
“There have been times when we have had a few scary moments due to cloud cover, but the pilots are so experienced,” Dr Carter said.
He said when the service relocates from the current site in Bathurst Road to the airport there will be advantages.
“Particularly when we are flying at night, and we can come in seeing the lights on the runway,” he said.
Dr Carter says he has every confidence the Orange-based service will continue to grow and provide vital services to people in the central and far west.