Some heroes wear stethoscopes, not capes
Meet CareFlight’s Dr Naomi Abdallah
She’s performed surgery in a van in the Andes mountains in Ecuador, South America, and travelled for days on a tiny boat to deliver medical supplies to remote communities in Panama. And now, being winched from a helicopter is a regular day at the office for Dr. Naomi Abdallah.
Dr. Abdallah is one of CareFlight Northern Operation’s all-female doctor team, which provides emergency aeromedical care to communities throughout Australia’s Northern Territory – including the Gove Peninsula, where our bauxite operations are based.
As the primary aeromedical, search and rescue service in the Territory, CareFlight provides a vital service to remote and rural areas. This investment is part of our A$1.1 million commitment to support the communities in East Arnhem, in the north eastern part of the Northern Territory, during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
“I didn’t always know I wanted to be a doctor, but it comes down to a love of people. It’s tough spending time away from my family and the ‘mum guilt’ is pretty real. But it’s also amazing to see how impressed my two-year-old is when I tell him stories of helping people out of broken cars and taking them to hospital in helicopters.
I’ve been passionate about remote medicine – and working with people who have minimal access to health care – for a long time. My first “retrieval job” was getting a team on a tiny boat to take a couple of boxes of medical supplies to remote Indigenous island communities in Panama. We spent all night trying to sleep in hammocks whilst swatting away mozzies [mosquitoes]!
It’s been a long road; around nine years of study, three degrees and now eight years of on-the-job training for the best job ever: working for CareFlight as a retrieval registrar up in the ‘Top End’ the top half of the Northern Territory including Darwin and Arnhem Land. CareFlight makes an incredible difference to the lives of people who are sick and would otherwise have to travel for days by car, or simply not survive just because they live in such remote locations.
Plus it’s pretty awesome to see the look on kids’ faces, especially little girls, when they see the doctor being winched out of the helicopter is also a woman.”
Main image: Dr. Abdallah (right), part of CareFlight Northern Operation’s all-female doctor team