This story has been recounted by Jules, a NSW Paramedic with 23 years of experience, working in many different remote, regional and metro locations.
In 2021 I was working in regional NSW when I was called to attend to a forestry worker who was suffering from chest pain. That’s all we knew when we left. His location was reported to be approximately an hour and a half down a dirt track in a state forest, and they were trying to organise a coworker in a 4wd to start making their way toward us.
We travelled almost an hour into the forest in a 4WD ambulance. When we got to the patient he was in quite a lot of pain. The chest pain he was suffering was due to a type of heart attack called a STEMI, a serious heart attack due to a blockage in his coronary arteries. Luckily I was trained in the use of thrombolytics and had the medications needed to treat his condition. The administration of these medications is one of the riskiest treatments paramedics can do.
In order to administer the medication, we are required to transmit a copy of our ECG to a cardiologist on duty for approval prior to being allowed to go proceed with the medication.
The problem was that we had no reception at all. Not a single bar. I turned to my partner, and to the patient’s colleague who had brought him to us, and said we had to drive back towards the road to get some reception so we could give the treatment he needed.
It was then that the patient’s friend said “You need reception? Hang on a minute!”
He then went to the back of his truck, flipped a switch, and said “try it now”. Within seconds we had full reception, were able to transmit the ECG and speak to the cardiologist who gave permission for us to commence treatment.
Just before we left I asked the friend what it was he had done. He told me about the CEL-FI. I have no doubt in my mind that CEL-FI saved this patient’s life. He still had an hour and a half of transport time to the appropriate hospital, but because of CEL-FI, he made it.
Without being able to transmit the ECG, and get the cardiologist’s permission, I know it would have been a very different outcome.