Helicopter rescue doctor to be Senior Fellow

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Helicopter rescue doctor to be Senior Fellow


Published on 10 April 2014

Australia’s first full-time helicopter rescue doctor Dr Ken Wishaw will become an Honorary Senior Fellow of the University of the Sunshine Coast on Friday 11 April.

Dr Wishaw, 58, of Alexandra Headland, will be the only recipient of an honorary award at USC’s Education, Nursing and Midwifery graduation ceremony at 11am.

It is one of four honorary awards to be presented at USC’s four graduation ceremonies over 10-11 April.

“This award is very humbling and I see it as recognition of the legacy that I’ve left in aviation and medicine,” said Dr Wishaw, who has been an anaesthetist on the Sunshine Coast for more than 20 years.

A pioneer of rescue helicopter medicine and aeromedical intensive care retrieval, Dr Wishaw co-founded CareFlight and the New South Wales Medical Retrieval Service in 1986.

He developed the stretcher-based “mobile intensive care unit” for safely transferring critically ill and injured patients. It has been copied around the world by civilian and military services.

His autobiography, ‘Helicopter Rescue’, published by Pan Macmillan in 2004, became a national bestseller.

Dr Wishaw has flown as a crewman for the Sunshine Coast Rescue Helicopter Service and served as a medivac officer with the Royal Australian Air Force.

After joining the Australian Army Active Reserve six years ago, he did a tour of Afghanistan where he helped devise new techniques for battle trauma management, which are now in practice across the Australian Defence Forces.

“Having anaesthetised 30,000 patients in my career, it’s hard to pick one highlight,” he said.

“However, I’m proud of my involvement in setting up medical simulation centres in Sydney and Brisbane and in developing training courses for the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists.”

The courses target the management of severe trauma and anaesthetic crises.

Dr Wishaw said anaesthetics and aviation shared similarities in protocols and procedures which could be taught via the simulators, which were now compulsory in training.

He is in private practice on the Sunshine Coast. His wife Dr Jackie Holt has lectured at USC in Health Promotion.

“I think the Sunshine Coast is the best place in the world to live and the University is a great boon because it means people can get a quality education while living here,” he said.

– Julie Schomberg

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