If you were stranded on a deserted island – or in a jungle, or a conflict zone, or in the middle of an earthquake – what would you take? You’d take UOW graduate Russell Banks, if you wanted to survive. The no-fear nurse has saved countless lives in all kinds of remote locations and precarious situations – and has ample tales to tell from his many adventures.
“I love the adrenaline rush of trauma nursing,” Banks says. “You never know what you will be called out to or what dangers you’ll face. I’ve seen everything from crocodile attacks, to mass casualty situations; volatile brawls with crowds of 30-plus people with knives, star pickets and other weapons, to children handling 15-foot long snakes; natural disasters like storms, floods and cyclones, to troop carriers rolling over, trapping and seriously injuring a dozen men at once.”
“Looking after people, especially in poverty and conflict areas, is very rewarding. Helping people in those areas makes a huge difference to their lives. Often if I’m not there, there’s no one else.”
There’d be many people from pockets all over the globe, grateful Banks chose to stay at UOW to complete his nursing studies rather than pursue life as a physio or PE teacher like he’d originally planned. “UOW was the start of my career – I had a great time there, many fond memories. Without it, I wouldn’t have done what I have. Everything has led from there,” he says.
It took just one post-graduate year on a ward for Banks to know the confines of hospital nursing weren’t for him – so he started travelling, taking on odd nursing jobs where they came up. He spent time in London giving flu vaccinations to employees of Goldman Sachs and other global businesses; he looked after an English Lord on the IRA’s top 10 hitlist in his Wimbledon mansion; and was flown to Cairo with one day’s notice to look after one of the wealthiest princes in the Saudi Arabian royal family for a month. “It was a real eye-opener for a young bloke from Wollongong!” he laughed.
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