For over 30 years Bruce Chater has been the doctor in the community of Theodore, 600kms north west of Brisbane.
He also operates the local pharmacy, helps maintain a maternity service, has worked to develop an aged care service, and runs the University of Queensland's faculty of rural and remote medicine. Not surprisingly, in 2007 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia.
Dr. Chater has a passion for supporting rural medicine, and for his community, where he also enjoys jet skiing and water skiing on the Dawson River with his wife and four sons.
However, in December 2010 Dr. Chater's jet skiing skills were to be employed in a very different manner when record rains caused flood waters to rapidly encroach on the town.
When the waters began rising Theodore's population of 350 assembled at the local RSL.
Dr. Chater was at his practice trying to save equipment and medical supplies, when he received word that someone at the RSL was having a fit.
He and his daughter-in-law Kylie, who works as a nurse, dragged the family's jetski to the front door and used it head down to the RSL to attend to the patient!
With waters still rising, Theodore soon became the first entire town in the history of Queensland to be evacuated due to flooding.
Neither the Council, Queensland Government agencies nor the Red Cross were prepared for such an evacuation. Fortunately, Anglo American which operates the nearby Dawson coal mine, and is the largest employer in the region, had the expertise and resources to mobilise quickly.
This included the nine helicopters used to ferry evacuees to the town of Moura.
"They [Anglo American] didn't have a major obligation to Theodore but their support and that of the people of Moura was wonderful." says Dr. Chater. "They'd set up a delivery area with clothes, had organised activities to keep people busy and it was so good. Anglo had only expected 80 or 90 people and suddenly they had to accommodate 351 but they did it so well."
Valuable assistance has also been given to the residents of Theodore by the Newcrest mining company, which operates the Cracow gold mine, 43 kilometres from the town. Newcrest provided emergency assistance during the crisis and is funding a number of relief initiatives, including the refurbishment of a senior citizens home in Theodore that was submerged by the floodwaters.
Dr. Chater and his wife stayed with their son who works as an engineer for the company. They lost everything in the flood, but In addition to a $100,000 donation to Theodore flood fund, Anglo American have provided a transportable building for his practice.
Three days before people were allowed to sleep back in Theodore the practice was already up and running.