A medical airplane was forced to make an emergency landing on a highway in South Australia after a vehicle rollover left the driver with life-threatening injuries. The plane is from Australia’s Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS).
Emergency services were called to the scene on Eyre Highway Saturday afternoon. Reports said that a Toyota SUV had rolled over on a remote stretch of the Nullarbor Plain, a part of the Australian outback, which left the driver critically injured. The driver was a 53-year-old man from Newton, Adelaide.
The RFDS plane was called to retrieve the driver, and after touching down on the highway, a retrieval team performed life-saving procedures on the ground to stabilize the patient. The RFDS Pilatus PC-12, after taking off from Port Augusta, touched down on a stretch of highway that was specially designed to double as an airstrip in the event of an emergency.
Executive general manager of retrievals, Dr. Mardi Steere, told ABC Radio Adelaide that “It took a truckie to find this guy in his car and he raised the alert with emergency services through Triple 0.” A nurse and a fire and emergency services volunteer drove 62 miles (100 kilometers) to be the first ones on the scene, and the Iluka mine dispatched some paramedics from 186 mi (300 km) away.
The RFDS worked with the police to control the traffic so the plane can safely land on the highway. Apparently, there were spots on the said thoroughfare that are designed to become landing strips when the need arises.
Dr. Steere added that “Our pilots know exactly which stretch of highway is the place for them to land as a makeshift landing strip. We’ve got a couple of places in South Australia where the highway is quite deliberately widened and reinforced and strengthened to be an emergency landing strip.”
The victim was flown to the Royal Adelaide Hospital and the RFDS said he remained critical but was currently in stable condition.