Woman airlifted out from Kokoda Track

National, Normal

A WOMAN in her 60s was evacuated by helicopter from the Kokoda Track yesterday, a day after one of her group members died.
The woman was in the same Adventure Kokoda group as Sydneysider Phillip Brunskill, 55, who died from a suspected heart attack on Sunday.
Former Kokoda Track Authority director Warren Bartlett yesterday said he was on his way to Jackson Airport in Port Moresby to meet the sick woman.
“She’s suffering dizziness and had a fast, erratic pulse,” he said.
“They decided she was not fit to continue the trek,” he said.
The woman’s group had continued the 96km trek after Mr Brunskill was stopped and sent back.
Mr Bartlett said he had heard on Sunday of a member of another trekking group also being airlifted out via medivac, but he did not know the details.
Meanwhile, a rescue professional has called for a dedicated search and rescue helicopter with an on-board medical team for the thousands of Australians who trek the Kokoda Track each year.
Jan Sheehan, flight nurse manager for PNG’s International SOS medical rescue team, said something similar to Australia’s Westpac Rescue helicopter was needed urgently.
“I just don’t think Australians are fully aware of what the Kokoda challenge is and that’s why we are seeing all sort of incidents,” she added.
Ms Sheehan said she was worried about insurance companies cutting costs by using regular helicopters for evacuating injured trekkers.
“I’ve seen trekkers come in off a helicopter screaming in pain, needing treatment and then we’ve been asked to help. This is not proper medical management,” she said.
Ms Sheehan echoed claims by Medevac Pacific Services director Brad Bailey, who in April raised concern that trekkers’ lives were being put at risk by insurance companies cutting costs.
“Operators are not using bona fide medivac services and it’s dangerous,” Ms Sheehan said.  – AAP