Medical equipment for rural communities

The right equipment in the right hands save lives 

Lifesaving equipment is crucial to have on hand at the scene of rural emergencies . And often lacking in rural and remote areas. But critical illness does not recognise geography. And that’s why, finding funding solutions through Rural Doctors Foundation was vital.

With the help of our generous supporters, rural clinicians and communities now have  access to medical equipment that helps them respond quickly and well in emergencies.  Innovative medical equipment has also been provided to rural hospitals across Australia due to the funding provided by our supporters.  

Every second, every minute counts 

When people suffer critical illnesses or medical emergencies in rural communities, distance is often a problem. Remoteness can make it difficult for ambulances and even specialist helicopter services, to arrive quickly. Medical experts describe this as a ‘trauma gap’ in rural communities. So it means patients who suffer illness or trauma from road crashes or farm accidents may face large delays. Even though they may need time-critical help.

Rural Doctors Foundation has worked to bridge this gap by providing defibrillators and Emergency Trauma Kits known as Sandpiper bags to rural communities and their doctors.  With the right equipment in the hands of trained doctors and community members means they are able to save more lives. 

Dr Cam Hollows receives emergency kit to help close the ‘trauma gap’


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  isolated from definitive medical care.

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.

Dr Cam Hollows 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.

 In recognition of Cam’s work in the 2022 Northern NSW floods which had essentially destroyed his personal emergency kit, he was offered a Sandpiper Bag thanks to a donation to  Rural Doctors Foundation.

Cam is often travelling between different towns, and can often be hours away from medical care. “The reality of of rural practice is that doctors may 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 crinkly bit of coastal NSW – that can be much more for doctors in the “real bush.”

 “I think 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 had to attend to half a dozen rural motor vehicle and motorcycle accidents many involving very severe injuries.”

Medical equipment can be difficult to access in rural Australia compared to larger metropolitan cities, and because of this, rural Australians are more vulnerable to injury and deaths in emergencies. “It reflects the inevitable gap between ambulance response times / 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 back of the car. Some would say it’s a bit superstitious but if you have the right equipment, you hope it acts as a voodoo 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.

Dr Alex Sleeman – Saving lives at the right place, at the right time with the right equipment

In rural and remote Australia, medical care can be limited, with distance making it difficult for emergency health services to arrive quickly.

Dr Alex Sleeman, a rural general practitioner is no stranger to this landscape, providing locum medical services to remote  communities in Western Australia. He has travelled over 100,000 kilometres in the past 18 months. During his travels he always has his emergency trauma kit, the Sandpiper bag in the back of his ute.  

With his family on holiday, travelling from Cape York to Townsville, Dr Sleeman encountered a single-vehicle accident. A Landcruiser had rolled at high speed after having blown a tyre, with three occupants inside.

By a stroke of luck, Dr Sleeman arrived at the scene only a few minutes after the accident, making him the sole medical responder.

With his Sandpiper Bag strategically placed and easily accessible, Dr Sleeman was able to manage the situation whilst waiting for the arrival of an ambulance. He used the equipment in the bag to provide pain relief to a young female who had fractured her radius and ulnar, which then allowed him to splint the broken arm. He was also able to obtain IV access in preparation for further pain relief for when paramedics arrived.

Dr Sleeman noticed another accident victim was very pale and suspected internal bleeding. He was able to keep them warm with a space blanket and gain IV access whilst awaiting paramedics.

“The paramedics couldn’t believe it when they turned up and patients already had analgesia, splints and IV access, thanks to the Sandpiper Bag.”

Thanks to Dr Sleeman’s timely arrival at the scene as well as his medical expertise, he was able to stabilise the patients and minimise their pain and discomfort. The Sandpiper Bag with its vital contents played a critical role in providing life-saving care in a rural roadside emergency.

Dr Sleeman’s story serves as a testament to the dedication of healthcare professionals in remote and rural Australia, and  highlights the value of being prepared for unforeseen emergencies. Rural Doctors Foundation provides Sandpiper Bags to skilled rural doctors such as Dr Alex Sleeman, enabling them to save more lives in emergency situations.

Responding with Medihoods at the time of COVID  

The Medihood is installed easily over a hospital bed and with their specialised air filtering system, create a cover of protection over each patient, helping to protect other patients and health workers from cross infection.   With grant funding, support from our donors and an advocacy campaign, Rural Doctors Foundation was instrumental in delivering over 180 of these devices into rural hospitals across Australia.   

The impact of these life-saving initiatives on rural communities is positive. And it’s possible thanks to those who generously support the work of Rural Doctors Foundation.  

“These Medihoods are life saving devices that protect patients, nurses and doctors from cross infection. The peace of mind they provided at the height of the COVID pandemic was incredible.”

–  Nurse Sam Bates

Are you inspired to fund critical projects like this to improve the lives of rural and remote people?

By supporting Rural Doctors Foundation, you can help deliver vital initiatives like this for the people of country Australia.