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Enjoy the Outback but remember your meds

Friday 6 May 2022

News Travel Checklist

With borders open and thousands of people hitting outback roads and heading for remote Western Queensland communities, visitors are being reminded to carry adequate stocks of their usual prescription medications.

Central West Hospital and Health Service General Manager Primary Health Anthony West said visitors to the far western regions should remember no pharmacies were available in remote areas of the state and regular medications may be difficult to obtain.

“As a rule, when you are travelling anywhere, you need to carry adequate stock of your prescription medications for your entire trip,’’ he said.

“So, plan and be prepared ahead of time, with adequate medications, prescriptions and have a letter with your medical history from your doctor in case you require medical services.

“When you require a script to be filled in these remote areas it can be problematic as the closest pharmacy to, for instance, Birdsville, is either Charleville or Mount Isa.

“There may be a significant delay in obtaining your medication from these areas as they also only carry a limited supply.

“The delay in getting medication to you may be as long as a week.

“Depending on how important regular daily intake of your medication is, this could easily turn into a medical emergency if you have to go some days without it.

“Although our primary health centres, like Birdsville, don’t have pharmacies, we can respond to emergencies and non-life-threatening conditions where you may require medications such as a course of antibiotics.’’

Mr West said visitors also should remember to carry documentation such as Medicare and concession cards.

“Being well prepared prior to travel limits the need to access non-emergency services,’’ he said.

“With the heavy rains late last year and early this year, Lake Eyre and the Channel Country have become tourist magnets, so we are expecting higher than average numbers to travel through in the coming months.’’

Mr West said all emergencies should be placed through the triple zero (000) system 24-hours a day, seven days a week, so care could be provided safely, quickly, and efficiently for the best possible outcome.

He said travellers should prepare a display folder to keep all their documents safe in the event they are unable to communicate with health staff or unable to remember specific details.

Before leaving home, go through the following list and check off each point. When completed, print it all out and bring it with you.

  • Health summary – make an appointment with your regular general practitioner and request a current health summary.
  • Medication list – ensure a current medication list is attached to your health summary – with medication name, dose, and frequency listed on it.
  • Prescriptions – request your doctor provide you with enough scripts to see you through your whole trip. (unless a medication review is required).
  • Medications – bring sufficient supply to last your trip and a few weeks longer.  Please remember that most of the small towns you visit do not have chemist shops and the primary health centre is not a dispensing pharmacy.  Additionally, new and specialised medication may not be easily accessible in the remote areas.
  • Keep in mind it only takes a couple of rain days, 1 kangaroo or a flat tyre to delay your departure home.
  • Advance Health Directive – If you have an advance health directive or any specific plans please include.
  • Health providers contact list – this could be a handwritten list or better still include your specialists’ business cards in your health folder.
  • Dressings – If you require ongoing wound care and are using a specific dressing – please bring a supply with you as we may not stock the type your specialist has prescribed. Remember transport of supplies to some of our towns can take a while.
  • Implants – please include details and any manufacturers’ information sheets in your folder.  Spare batteries would also be a useful item to bring on your trip.

Mr West said people in remote areas calling in an emergency also could help themselves and any first responders by ensuring their location could be quickly and easily identified.

“In many cases, people aren't aware of their location, especially if they are in open space areas like beaches, parks, long stretches of roads or simply unfamiliar with their surroundings,’’ he said.

“But these days, more than 75 per cent of incoming calls to Triple Zero nationally are made from mobile phones and nearly all mobile phones now have built-in location features that can be turned on or off.

“Since August 2021, the Australian Government has rolled out Advanced Mobile Location technology across Australia that activates the location feature in a mobile phone when a Triple Zero call is made and allows emergency services to pinpoint a caller’s location.

“But in addition, I also encourage all rural residents, or people travelling in country areas, to download the Emergency+ (plus) app,’’ he said.

“The Emergency Plus app also allows the GPS functionality of smartphones to provide emergency services with a person’s location information as determined by their smartphone, even if the phone is out of range of mobile service.

“Latitude and longitude details can be relayed to an emergency operator as well as an address and location details.

“This application definitely has the capacity to save lives, and everyone should have it on their smartphones, no matter where they live.’’


For further information contact:

James Guthrie   Principal Media Officer, Rural and Remote Qld   Media and Communication   Department of Health   (07) 3708 5379

Last updated: 9 May 2022