The Road Ahead Sampler : August September 2012
WWW.ROADAHEAD.COM.AU THE ROAD AHEAD AUG/SEP2012 8 COMMUNITY RACQ CAPRICORN HELICOPTER RESCUE WHEN LOU AND John Carothers talk of the 'big, yellow bird' that came to their aid over the Easter weekend, they aren't referring to the feathered variety. They are affectionately referring to the RACQ Capricorn Rescue helicopter. The Gympie-based couple had just begun a month-long stint as volunteer campground hosts on North West Island, located about 75 km from Gladstone. It was only the second time the Carothers had volunteered as campground hosts at the island, which forms part of the Capricorn Cays National Park and is a six-hour ferry ride from Gladstone. "We like adventurous things," Lou said. "The first time was such an adventure, so when they asked if we could go for a month this time, we jumped at the chance." For the most part, John and Lou's 'job' entails welcoming campers and providing them with assistance if needed, as well as maintaining the basic facilities on the island. According to Lou, the people who visit North West Island have been doing it for decades. Most started camping there with their own children, and have returned year after year. The 72-year-old visitor who was injured was no exception. He had just arrived at the island with his wife, children and grandchildren when he suffered a debilitating back injury. Given he had undergone a major heart operation only four months before, and knee replacement surgery two months earlier, the repercussions of the injury were potentially catastrophic. "He jarred his back and pinched the nerves really badly," Lou said. "Every time he moved he vomited and was in extreme pain. Fortunately he had painkillers. He said that, in retrospect, he shouldn't have gone (camping)." As campground hosts, Lou and John had radio contact with the mainland, so when the family alerted them to what had happened they immediately radioed for help. Given the island is only accessible by barge on a high tide, transporting the patient by boat would have taken hours. Fortunately Capricorn Helicopter Rescue was able to land on the beach during low tide, and before long medical help had arrived. "We thought it could get nasty if he'd had to go by boat, so mission possible STORY DEB ECCLESTON | PHOTOS JOHN CAROTHERS Two RACQ members experienced bird watching of a different kind when RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue was called to airlift an injured camper from a remote Queensland island.
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