Away from the battlefield and closer to home, ALM could save lives in Australia’s outback.
Hayley says rural and remote medicine and battlefield medicine share similar challenges including limited resources, austere environments and delayed evacuations. ALM could be used in a range of situations including farm accidents, car accidents, shark attacks, mass casualty situations such as terror attacks or natural disasters, and obstetric haemorrhage.
“One of the most exciting and important civilian applications will be in rural and remote medicine, which is particularly important in Australia where 30 per cent of the population live in rural and remote areas,” Hayley says. “The sad reality is that people in rural and remote regions are 50 per cent more likely to die from traumatic injury than those in metropolitan areas.”
Hayley is often too busy to consider the huge impact her research could have on people across the globe. The busy nature of lab work, which involves everything from small animal surgery to analysing samples and interpreting data, means she rarely has time to sit back and contemplate how her work could one day be the reason someone survives a traumatic injury.
“Although to many people it might not seem like a normal job, to me it is just that — my job,” she says. “I have a job to do and I work really hard to do a good job. Every now and then, though, I am reminded of why I do what I do.”
She was reminded when Paul Warren from the Mates4Mates charity recently visited the lab. Paul was serving in Afghanistan when he was injured and lost a leg. Hayley says Paul went on to use that experience in the most incredible way – working for Mates4Mates, captaining the Australian team for the Invictus Games, writing a book and making invaluable contributions to his community.
“He recounted his story to me and through his descriptions he took me to that moment in his life when the blast occurred,” Hayley says. “He was fortunate that he received medical care that enabled him to survive but he also lost mates.”
While Hayley insists her work is just a job, her fiery passion to achieve her goals comes from the heart and shows a dedication many people would find difficult to match. Hayley hopes that one day ALM syringes will be in every soldier’s backpack, every ambulance, LifeFlight and rescue helicopter, in first aid kits on rural and remote stations and used in veterinary hospitals.
“The thing about traumatic injury is that it disproportionately affects young people and the ripple effect is huge when someone dies way too young,” she says. “I have a lot of personal motivation, having been both the patient myself, and spending six days in an intensive care unit as a family member when my beloved father passed away from a sudden brain haemorrhage."
“I was once told that I was too emotional — that people die every day and I should just get over it — but I can’t do that. While I have a brain and a heartbeat I will continue working to achieve that goal.”