Case study: Dr Cam Hollows

In the world of emergency medical care, having the right equipment at the right time can be crucial. This is particularly so in rural areas.

Rural Doctors Foundation provides Sandpiper Bags to rural doctors; pre-filled emergency care kits invaluable in emergency situations. One such recipient of a Sandpiper Bag is Dr Cam Hollows.

Cam is a rural general practitioner in Northern NSW. Son of the late Ophthalmologist Professor Fred Hollows, Cam has a background in marine science ecology and biology, and has GP anaesthesia training and pre-hospital training. He is particularly passionate about climate change and environmental disasters and has been heavily involved in the response efforts, most recently the 2022 Northern NSW floods.

 

Cam first heard about the Sandpiper Bag when he was attending a pre-hospital emergency care course run by the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM). The kit caught Cam’s eye as he had previously created a similar emergency kit.

Cam travels between different towns, and can often be hours away from medical care. “The reality of rural practice is that doctors drive between 500-1000km per week between home and workplaces. Some of that travel is on major highways, some on smaller arterial roads. I’m mindful I’m in the green bit of coastal NSW – that can be much more for doctors in the “real bush.”

In recognition of Cam’s work in the Northern NSW floods which destroyed his personal emergency kit, he was offered a free Sandpiper Bag thanks to a donation to Rural Doctors Foundation

The Sandpiper Bag is perfect to respond to road trauma. Unpredicted, unexpected road trauma is potentially part of any rural doctor’s working life. Across the years I have attended to many rural motor vehicle and motorcycle accidents involving severe injuries.”

Medical equipment is difficult to access in rural Australia compared to larger metropolitan cities, and rural Australians are more vulnerable to injury and deaths in emergencies. “It reflects the inevitable gap between ambulance response times and distances in rural locations, and the necessity to provide immediate care in a trauma.”

“I really appreciate receiving this excellent kit, it was a touching gesture of recognition at a difficult time for my community.”

I feel vastly more comfortable driving around rural Australia with the Sandpiper bag in the car. Some would say it’s a bit superstitious but with the right equipment, you hope it acts as a charm to ward off the need for having it! Because there is nothing worse than an event happening and not being equipped for it.”

Although many rural emergencies are accidental, such as cases of road trauma, other emergencies arise from environmental disaster, and these are becoming a new normal. Cam urges us to address the climate crises that are becoming more frequent and severe. “There have been five “once-in-a-lifetime” environmental events in the first five years of my daughter’s life, in one part of Australia. It’s clear that we need to be aware of the contribution of these changes to our patient’s and community health in both an acute and chronic setting”.

Rural Doctors Foundation supports doctors by providing Sandpiper Bags to skilled rural doctors like Dr Cam Hollows, to help alleviate the critical care deficit in rural Australia and better equip them for emergencies.

Interview and story by Ayton Duong, Medical Student at University of Newcastle. Special thanks to Dr Cam Hollows for sharing his inspirational story.