In Australia's Outback (or anywhere else that's) hundreds of miles (or KM's) from the nearest town or medical facilities, we hams could provide valuable assistace in medical emergencies or larger disasters (hours before well-equipped emergency services can arrive on-scene), if we carried a "Portable Autopatch" & a handheld radio, as well as our VHF/UHF mobile radio in our vehicles, while travelling or working in the Outback.
1. A car crash in Outback Australia... of 5 people in the car, 4 are injured, including the driver with head & leg trauma...
The crash occured about 200 km's from the nearest town, and NO ambulance or police stations or hospitals are nearer...
The nearest clinic - staffed with a Remote Area Nurse from time to time - is NOT staffed at the time (1 Jan 2009, about 3 AM)...
The nearest homes are those of an Aboriginal community just up the road... FEW have telephones, some have NO electricity...
The head trauma patient - who also has back pain - is take to a house with NO PHONE or 2-way radio...
That house is FAR out of range of any cordless phone, & there's NO CELL-PHONE COVERAGE here in the Outback...
NO satellite phone is available at the time...
2. The community is located near a railway that's used daily (by both freight & passenger trains), but there is NO RADIO COMMS between the two.
There's been a derailment incident in the same area, ie, just a few years ago.
So, there's a well-documented & regular need for communications here.
3. Australia's well-known Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) has on-call duty doctors, who can be consulted by phone via a free-call phone number...
but with NO phone service at patient's bedside, it was NOT possible to speak with the RFDS doctor while examining the patient...
Instead one examined, then drove to the phone, transmitted examination results, got orders from the doctor, & drove back to the patient... not at all satisfactory.
4. English skills of the available Aboriginal residents - during this incident - were NOT such that the person examining the patient could simply hand a radio to a resident (ie, at a location with a working telephone) and ask them to relay messages to doctor or hospital.
Holding such a radio radio near the phone & switching between mic and speaker (while also coordinating use of the radio's Push-to-Talk button) would NOT be optimal, to say the least.
5. A licensed Radio Amateur lives nearby, is happy to assist, ie, in an emergency, do what needs to be done; in the longer term, help people get Ham tickets, etc. so there'll be more communications options next time.
We need a way to have even -temporary- bedside access to a telephone (available within 3 km of the patient, in this incident) for consultation with the doctor.
If we hams carried a "Portable Autopatch" (ie, a simple interface between the modern, Off-the-Shelf VHF or UHF radio(s), that we have in vehicles, it would be easy to:
1. park the cooperating Ham's radio-equipped vehicle near a home or business, whose resident or operator is prepared to loan a phone line for the consultation (several would have been willing to do so, in this incident)
2. plug-in the (proposed) "Portable Autopatch" between the phone line (via an phone-extension cord, that the Ham would likely need to carry) and the Ham's mobile VHF or UHF radio
3. at the patient's bedside, use a handheld radio to call the RFDS doctor (remember, it's a free call, so there'd be NO calling costs to the cooperative resident or business operator)
4. after the consultations are complete, the Ham would remove & pack away the Portable Autopatch and the phone-extention cord & continue on his or her way...
Now, all we need is such a Portable Autopatch...
...either new or used - preferably, in an Off the Shelf product?
(I'd guess that companies such as MFJ should have or be interested in creating a cost-effective product.)
A reliable home-brew product would also be fine.
Any leads would be welcome... TIA & 73,
Chuck - VK5CQ
GPO Box 222