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"An alluring tale of ear lobe impalement"

About: Coral Bay Nursing Post

(as a parent/guardian),

Recently our Family were camping on remote Warroora Station at the wonderful 14 Mile Beach campground. Warroora is relatively isolated, some 30km South of Coral Bay, largely outside of mobile reception and accessible via corrugated road.

During one of our adventures, our eldest son was fishing safely off a rock ledge, like the many that trace the Warroora Station Coast. As our son was attempting to retrieve his popper ‘lure’ he over tensioned the fishing line and catapulted the barbed tri-hook skywards. After a second of wondering where it had travelled to, he realised it was embedded in his left earlobe. The lure now hung like an oversized earring from his left ear, barb embedded and red blood trickling down the side of his face and neck.  

We looked at each other as it was near on sunset, and we were at least 7km from patchy phone reception. We sprung into action and quickly jumped back in the car to head to the Telstra booster, along the corrugated coastal track. Once arrived, we rang the number for the Coral Bay Nursing Station which automatically redirected to Health Direct. Once connected with Health Direct, we went through the triage questions with the nurse on call, who paused after about 10 mins conversation and said ‘this is classed as an impalement, and he needs an ambulance’. Before we could say ‘what?’, the call was already diverted through and we were talking to triple 000. Keeping in mind, outside of Coral Bay, ambulance options are either Carnarvon or Exmouth.

His ear was bleeding yes, and technically it was impaled, but we didn’t think it warranted mustering an ambulance to drive 200km in the dark to somehow find us. Calls between St John’s on-call Doctor and us ensued, and we decided we would go back to the 14 Mile Beach camp caretaker to let him know of our predicament.

There the true Australian spirit shined - as if out of nowhere, everyone wanted to help. We were presented with a full array of rusty tin snips and bolt cutters, and local specialist opinions. One guy stood out, seemingly the least drunk of them all I believe, and he was a legend for his bush medico skills. He set to work with his tin snips and in no time he had snipped the lure off so it didn’t dangle with such weight. The barbed hook though was still embedded, and it needed to come out, and for this, we needed some more help.

We went back up to the Telstra tower for some mobile reception, and dealt some more with some of the Ambulance questions - like, where are you? what is the nearest corner? It seemed there was lots of consternation about what to do with the boy who caught his own ear (his biggest catch of the day). Common sense prevailed, and we were soon on our way down 30 km of corrugated road in the dark to Coral Bay. A distant storm was unfolding on the horizon, and fork lightning crackled over the vast plains - a beautiful show from nature, matching the rugged beauty of the landscape.

With the hook still lodged in his ear, we made our way to the bitumen road near Coral Bay, back into mobile reception, and made our way to the Coral Bay Nursing Post. Another call with Health Direct, as the rain came down and then some great news. The Nurse stationed in Coral Bay would make it out after dark to see our son.

In steps Jan, cool, calm, collected, seen it before and wrote the book on hook removals. Jan quickly wrangled the situation and set about a plan to remedy the ear lobe saga. Late in the evening, raining, Jan worked some caring magic, bringing calm to some exhausted, and rather smelly campers, who last saw a shower about a week prior.

Our son asked lots of questions and was particularly curious about anaesthetics. I believe Jan had it sorted, with the ultimate art of distraction and flair. In little to no time, Jan had sorted the hook out, and even recovered it to save it as a souvenir.

Jan’s demonstration of care was exceptional, but she delivered it with wit, humour and a deep appreciation of the saga that had unfolded. Hats off to you Jan, you did an amazing job, and were very thoughtful. Based on our experience, you embody care, and went over and above to look after these smelly campers.

The situation wasn’t serious, but you still prioritised our son’s care. It was great to finally talk to someone in person. The efforts of the Health Direct and St John’s Ambulance were great too. It would have been great if we could have discussed the need for an Ambulance before being automatically put through to one. I felt the situation didn’t really warrant one, but process flows are there to be followed!

Good on you Jan, and we hope never to see you again!


Response from Grant Patrick, A/Operations Manager, Carnarvon, WA Country Health Service last month
Grant Patrick
A/Operations Manager, Carnarvon,
WA Country Health Service
Submitted on 03/09/2021 at 17:58
Published on Care Opinion on 06/09/2021 at 08:41

picture of Grant Patrick

Dear melontk35,

Thank you for sharing your health care experience on Care Opinion, it made for quite an enjoyable read!

I am proud that our team provides great people centred care and it’s nurses like Jan that embrace our mission to deliver high quality care to our country communities. I look forward to passing on your compliments about the exceptional care Jan provided you and your family.

I will also pass on your feedback to Healthdirect around the transfer to 000, without giving you the opportunity to discuss this first.

Enjoy the rest of your time exploring the region/state and I hope your son has recovered from his biggest catch of the day (and hope you eventually managed to find a shower!!)

Kind regards

Grant Patrick

Operations Manager Gascoyne

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