Kerry and her husband John live a peaceful life in Lake Cargelligo, on a small farm 16km west of town. Lake Cargelligo is approximately 600 km from Sydney, roughly located in the centre of NSW, with a population of just 1,300 people.
John is a retired mechanic, who now works on their small farm and tinkers in his ‘man cave’, while Kerry rides horses and plays bowls.
For John and Kerry, life is good. But there was a time not so long ago when a terrible accident threatened to tear their peaceful life apart.
Kerry has shared some of the details of that time. ‘A few years ago, John was helping our neighbour to re-gas the air conditioner in a piece of farming equipment called a header. Whilst John was on top of the header, something went terribly wrong. There was a large gas explosion and John’s hands, face and back were severely burnt, 30% of them first degree burns. He could not climb down from the header as his hands were burnt, and so he had to jump. Luckily he did not break anything when he jumped down.’
Others present placed wet towels on him until the local ambulance arrived and took him to Lake Cargelligo hospital. The RFDS and Concord Burns unit provided support over the phone until the Flying Doctor plane could arrive, with two doctors and a nurse aboard.
‘The staff on the plane were excellent and very calming in what was a very stressful situation,’ said Kerry.
‘Once we landed in Sydney, John was taken to Concord Hospital and was operated on within 24 hours. They gave him a 50% chance of surviving, given his age of 72 - but they did not realise how tough people are in the bush!’
John was in hospital for 5 weeks, and the team were very impressed how quickly he recovered.
‘We are immensely grateful to the Flying Doctor and it’s generous supporters. To move a severely burnt person by road would have been a very long and painful journey. Time was critical in getting John to the burns specialist team in Concord.’
John has now been able to get back to normal life and was recently able to attend his daughter’s wedding.
‘The RFDS is an essential medical service for remote areas of Australia,’ says Kerry ‘it saved my husband’s life.’
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