A Second Chance at Life
Sneaking out of the house to walk his dog, a regular early bird and Dunsborough resident Darcy Francis hadn't expected to feel unwell or to be aboard a Royal Flying Doctor Service flight mere hours later.
"I left my wife Julie sleeping that morning," says Darcy. "But while walking my dog I collapsed on a kerbside with chest pains." There was no-one else around, so with Scruffy tugging on the lead, Darcy knew he couldn't "just lay there" despite experiencing classic heart attack 'elephant on your chest' feelings.
Managing to get back on his feet, 57 year old Darcy walked the remaining 400 metres home, where he woke Julie.
She drove him to Busselton Hospital and an initial ECG showed nothing untoward. But things took a turn and Darcy suffered a heart attack right there.
"I can remember two doctors being there," he says. "One was taking care of me and the other was on the phone to the Flying Doctor." Darcy was picked up at Busselton Airport, and although feeling a little 'outside' of things, he felt in the best of care.
"Being put on the RFDS flight was one of the moments I wasn't scared. I had full trust in the people around me. They were so professional and everything felt methodical. The doctor and nurse introduced themselves and were a very calming influence.
"They talked to me throughout the flight to make sure I knew what they were doing," Darcy recalls. "I was their priority, and they treated me that way."
Darcy was flown to Jandakot and transferred to Fiona Stanley Hospital where the admitting doctor read his notes and greeted him with: "You are one lucky man!"
Julie and daughter Shannen drove to Perth, and Shannen remembers: "It felt like the longest car trip to get to my dad, my hero. But we had peace of mind knowing he was with medical professionals and would be there in only 30 minutes."
Darcy underwent surgery, and was home recovering soon after. Shannen explains: "The RFDS means everything to our family, so we asked that loved ones kindly make a donation rather than sending dad flowers or cards."
For Darcy, he's always held the RFDS in the highest regard. "I hoped I'd never need them, but with firsthand experience, my respect is even greater, if that's possible."
Today Darcy's back walking Scruffy and is moving on positively from this experience. "I've got great support and I reckon I'm the luckiest bloke still standing up!" And he adds: "I know they'd never seek recognition, but the RFDS is a huge part of the medical team who saved my life."
“The in-flight medical care felt very organised and calm, so I can only imagine the work behind the scenes for things to run that smoothly.”