Critical Care Doctor Nathan Trist
Critical Care Doctor Nathan Trist. Picture: The Daily Telegraph/Jonathan Ng.

High pressure environments are nothing new to Critical Care Doctor Nathan Trist. Spending the past 15 years playing professional rugby, he now spends his working days above the clouds.

Dr Trist was an integral member of the Sydney University Rugby Club juggernaut notching up more than 200 games in his career as well as starring for the NSW Waratahs and Australian Rugby Sevens team.

While he has had some tough encounters and been tested on the rugby pitch, his biggest challenge yet is working on the NSW Ambulance Rescue Helicopters.

“I found some of the skills from training and playing footy that translates well into working on the rescue helicopters,” Dr Trist said. Juggling rugby commitments with medical school was a difficult task but all the hours of study have finally paid off. “There has been lots of hard work and study go into the medicine side of things,” he said.

“It’s been many years of learning the trade. There has been stressful times but I have been fortunate enough to train in some exceptional emergency departments across the country.

“We perform in the most challenging environments under fatigue, and these skills often relate to a tough game of footy.”

While he becomes accustom to life in the sky, Dr Trist said the communication with his colleagues was key to being successful in high pressure situations.

“It’s not a tense situation in the chopper, everyone understands their role and what they need to do,” he said.

“It’s a bit like making changes in a rugby game when things aren’t going right, if something doesn’t work you need to reassess and communicate with your team mates.”

Critical Care Paramedic Greg Kirk said his colleague had settled into the Aeromedical team. “Nathan was a really quick learner, his medical skills are outstanding,” Greg said.

“It was just a matter of integrating him in the helicopters.”