Magazine Sneak Peek: Royal Flying Doctor, At Your Service!

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This issue, we decided to investigate The Outback, and we turned to Australian Mark Juddery for the scoop. One of our favorite tidbits was the incredible and tragic story that inspired the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Here's a glimpse:

Back in 1917 in Western Australia, a cattle rancher named James Darcy was thrown from his horse and seriously injured. His story made front-page headlines because of what happened next. His friends took him to the nearest town, Halls Creek, but no one there had any medical knowledge. Realizing that Darcy would die without immediate attention the postmaster telegraphed a doctor 3,000 miles away in Perth. Using only Morse code, the doctor diagnosed Darcy with a ruptured bladder and talked the postmaster through a seven-hour operation. Scarier still, the postmaster had no surgical equipment or anesthesia—just a razor and a penknife.

Amazingly, Darcy survived the surgery, but as complications soon set in, he still needed medical attention. When a physician finally arrived from Perth ten days later, it was too late. Darcy had succumbed to infections just one day prior. Upon hearing the news, the whole country was crestfallen. But to make sure Darcy didn't die in vain, Australia established the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS). At the time, airplanes were still strictly for daredevils. For the last 80 years the RFDS has been responsible for countless acts of bravery and has saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Today, the Flying Doctors operate from 20 Outback stations, can be anywhere in Australia within two hours, and attend to an average of 665 patients every day.

The other stories on The Outback are pretty incredible, from how the modern art world has affected the Aborigine culture, to an enormous population of feral camels inhabiting the region.

Want the full story? Be sure to order the mag, or get a digital subscription today.

February 19, 2009 - 5:35am
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