A personal story of cyclone Yasi.
The beginning of 2011 was an extraordinary period for natural disasters in our part of the world. It began with the floods in South East Queensland, then Cyclone Yasi, the Christchurch earthquake and finally the Japanese tsunami.
The evacuation of the Cairns Hospital in less than 24 hours is one of the great success stories for Emergency Services in Queensland. It is even more extra-ordinary when one realizes there was no formal evacuation plan for Cairns Hospital in place.
Many health professionals put aside their personal welfare and concerns for their own homes to ensure that 320 patients were evacuated without a single fatality. Special mention should be made of those that weathered the Category 5 winds (over 250 km/hr) in the stand-alone basketball stadium that served as the ‘hospital’ for 250,000 people post Cairns Hospital shutting down.
This presentation by Dr Sean McManus outlines an exhausting 96 hours. Firstly managing the evacuation of ten ventilated patients from the Cairns Intensive Care Unit, then packing up his house and bunkering down for the storm and then finally dealing with a critically unwell 5 month old with complex cardiac pathology.
“Polepole”, the Swahili motto for climbing Kilimanjaro is a consistent theme throughout the presentation. Translated as ‘steady, steady’, it means just keep taking little steps until you reach the summit and don’t let the enormity of the mountain overwhelm you.