Raging debate: GPs’ fight to lead

WHEN the bushfires raged around Canberra in 2003, Dr Glynn Kelly was able to implement the first disaster action plan for GPs anywhere in the world. Lives were lost, but many lives were almost certainly saved through this prompt and co-ordinated mobilisation of GPs.

Working from a hospital desk — both his cellphones were down, as was his home telephone line — Dr Kelly was able to deploy known GPs, with known skills, to the areas of urgent need, as well as coordinate a response from local pharmacists to meet demands for lost medications and scripts.

It was only during debriefing that small but useful lessons came to light. “We needed saline for eye injuries and burns caused by cinders. It wasn’t until I spoke to the St John’s Ambulance people that I found out that they had 2000 litres which they didn’t know what to do with,” said Dr Kelly, now a GP in North Brisbane.

Sadly, recent climate-related disasters