Navy pair comes to the aid of seriously injured cyclist

Published on LEUT Todd Fitzgerald (author), LSIS James Whittle (photographer)

Location(s): Darwin, NT

Topic(s): HMAS Coonawarra

Petty Officer Naval Police Coxswain Scott Fox and Lieutenant Anthony Russell from HMAS Coonawarra stand outside the Larrakeyah Health Centre.  (photo: LSIS James Whittle)
Petty Officer Naval Police Coxswain Scott Fox and Lieutenant Anthony Russell from HMAS Coonawarra stand outside the Larrakeyah Health Centre.

The quick actions, cool heads and training of an officer and a sailor from HMAS Coonawarra have helped a seriously injured cyclist caught underneath a bus in Darwin recently.

Nursing Officer Lieutenant Anthony Russell and Petty Officer Naval Police Coxswain Scott Fox were on their way to work when they saw a bus and cyclist collide.

Lieutenant Russell stopped his car and immediately began to control the scene. He told a bystander to call emergency services and asked those unable to help to leave.

Petty Officer Fox, who had been riding to work, grabbed a first aid box from the bus.

The men then began to assist the cyclist.

“The man was half in the gutter and half on the footpath,” Lieutenant Russell said. 

“He was severely injured with a significantly deformed left lower leg. He was conscious but in lots of pain and had a 25 centimetre cut extending from his mid-foot to his knee.

“I moved his leg to its correct alignment and then Petty Officer Fox and I moved him out of the gutter to provide pain management until the ambulance arrived about 15 minutes later.”

Paramedics from St John Ambulance drove the cyclist to Royal Darwin Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery and was later flown to Royal Adelaide Hospital for microsurgery.

Lieutenant Russell said he felt proud he and Petty Officer Fox were able to help someone in need during a high-stress situation with very few medical resources at hand. 

Events such as this reinforced his reasons for joining the Navy as a Nursing Officer, who are trained to provide expert care in challenging circumstances and with minimal support.

“Being a military nurse challenges me in working in environments such as war zones and humanitarian that I would not get as a civilian,” Lieutenant Russell said.

Nursing Officers are a key part of a multi-disciplinary medical team that ensures the health of all Navy personnel. They serve in a variety of well-equipped Defence facilities in Australia and also serve at sea. 

Navy Nurses regularly work alongside their Army and Air Force colleagues in land-based facilities under canvas, both in Australia and overseas. 

Lieutenant Russell is the Senior Nursing Officer at Larrakeyah Defence Precinct Health Centre. He has worked in the Navy’s Maritime Operational Health Unit as an Emergency Nurse Specialist and deployed on Operation FIJI ASSIST to help survivors of Cyclone Winston in 2016.

Petty Officer Fox is the primary health care provider on Armidale Class Patrol Boat HMAS Maryborough and had recently completed refresher training with St John Ambulance.