The Road Ahead : April 2013
ROADAHEAD.COM.AU THE ROAD AHEAD APR/MAY 2013 12 "It's sometimes very difficult for us to locate crash sites in rural Queensland. There are long stretches of road with very few landmarks as reference points," Mr Dorr said. "But I'll never forget this crash. You could clearly see from kilometres away ... a massive Mount Isa-based NQ Rescue CEO and pilot Alex Dorr knows too well if their helicopter is called to the scene of a crash -- let alone a high-speed one involving a truck -- the odds for their patient aren't good. The helicopter crew received such a call from the Queensland Ambulance Service last December: a man in his 30s had flipped his truck and been thrown through the windscreen, just moments before the vehicle exploded in flames. It was a race for emergency crews to reach the remote site outside Gregory in Queensland's north, 300km north of Mount Isa. The ambulance was an hour away by road, and it would take RACQ As we flew over the crash site, it was just shocking. All you could see was the debris. From what we could tell, the flat bed truck had gone end over end, the excavator it had been carrying just got thrown along the road like dice. RACQ NQ RESCUE The chopper was hovering over our neighbours' house, and we saw that they were on their roof being winched up. I panicked, because I thought I would need to get up onto our roof to be saved, but I couldn't because I was eight months pregnant and carrying a frightened 15-month-old in my arms. RACQ CAREFLIGHT RESCUE Bundaberg mum Helen Smith said her relief was 'indescribable' when she first saw RACQ CareFlight Paramedic Anthony Clark being lowered down to the landing of her home. Measuring barely one square metre, the crew knew there was very little room for error. "It took all the skill of our pilot to maintain the highly challenging hover position so that Anthony could be winched down to the frightened family," Careflight's Brian Guthrie said. Helen's husband, Dan, was the first to be winched to safety. The paramedic was lowered back down the winch cable to retrieve baby James, who was strapped to his chest. "Seeing my baby being winched up was horrible -- there are absolutely no words to describe it," Ms Smith, pictured with Dan, said. "He was screaming, and the look of terror on his face was heartbreaking." RACQ CareFlight Aircrewman Brian Guthrie could relate to the terrified family. "As a father with a wife who is also pregnant, it was all a bit too close to home and you can't help but get a bit emotional," he said. The Smith family was one of hundreds rescued from raging floodwaters in the aftermath of ex- Tropical Cyclone Oswald. CareFlight tasked four helicopters and more than 25 crew members to flood-ravaged Bundaberg, pictured, to assist in mass evacuations and rescues of trapped residents. In just 48 hours, crews plucked more than 200 people from the rooftops of homes inundated by water. Helen Smith knows her family's situation could have been a lot worse that day. "Even though we lost possessions, we still have our family. And I'm sure that wouldn't have been the case if it weren't for RACQ CareFlight," she said.