Graphic: Archie with RFDS crew

Archie burnt after falling into campfire, helped by RFDS

Date published

16 Aug 2017

The Culphs are just one of the many families who've needed the services of the Flying Doctor recently. They shared their story to show how quickly something frightening can happen and how vital the RFDS is. Even if you're just on holidays.

The Culphs were packing up their campsite after breakfast when disaster struck.

Suddenly six year-old Archie was screaming.

While Bronwyn and Matt Culph's backs were turned for a moment, Archie had fallen into the campfire coals and burned his leg.

"He jumped out and brushed the embers away," says Bronwyn. "It was a real shock that it happened so fast. It was just lucky he only burned his leg."

Matt grabbed a jerry can of water to pour straight onto the wound. Bronwyn found their first aid kit to dress the injury. Some Panadol helped with Archie's pain.

Their family holiday driving from Central Victoria to Broome in Western Australia was now a race to find help for Archie.

But they were 100 kilometres south of Tibooburra, the closest town in far western New South Wales. Just over an hour later, the Culphs found the medical centre there. Luckily it was the day of the Flying Doctor clinic visit, so they were able to get help straight away.

"Both the nurse and doctor examined his wound and phoned for specialist advice," says Bronwyn. "I didn't know how severe the burn was until I had a good look at it there."

Archie needed to have treatment at Broken Hill Hospital. Because the emergency aircraft was already out on an even more serious case, Bronwyn and Archie headed to Broken Hill with the team on the clinic plane.

"The ambulance trip to the airstrip was a big distraction for Archie," recalls Bronwyn. "He had a wonderful flight with the medical team, too. We had great care all the way."

After an overnight stay in the hospital and a new wound dressing, the family headed off to continue their holiday. Archie is now healing well and his only complaint is he can't yet go swimming.

But the whole experience has left Bronwyn and Matt thinking how lucky they were that help was available for Archie.

"There are a lot of 'what ifs'," says Bronwyn. "What if there wasn't the RFDS available? We would have had to drive for at least five hours before Archie could be treated. The dressing I had wasn't anywhere near big enough. We didn't know how bad it was. Such a long delay could have been serious.

"I've always been a fan of the RFDS. We travelled through the Outback when we were little kids so we knew about them. But now we're even more grateful. It's a really great service they provide."