Graphic: Trent and Mark took part in the Lake Argyle challenge after Trent's partner Carmen used the RFDS services and wanted to raise funds for the Flying Doc

Uluru accident prompts Sydney mates to swim for Flying Doctor

Date published

12 May 2017

When good mates Trent Fitzgerald and Mark Bemer chose to raise funds for charity by competing in the annual 10km Lake Argyle swim, they say they "did not hesitate to raise as much money" as they could for us. Explaining why, Trent's partner Carmen Friend agreed to let us share their story with you below.

While on holiday one night in Uluru a few years ago with my partner Trent, I fell down a flight of stairs and twisted my leg and ankle. Or that's what we thought.

The pain was so bad I was screaming and hyperventilating. A local nurse came to my aid and she called an ambulance to the nearest medical centre.

Staff suspected my ankle was fractured so they called the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) to see if I could be flown to Alice Springs, instead of waiting to be placed on a commercial flight the next day.

Despite pain relief, the pain remained pretty intense. Thankfully the RFDS rang to say they could pick us up within an hour.

When they arrived we were greeted by the pilot and a friendly flight nurse who took care of me. Seeing smiling faces at 11pm when you're feeling uncomfortable was a blessing, instead of spending the night in pain in a hotel.

Trent came with me on the aircraft and all I remember seeing was lots of gadgets and monitors.

At around 1am we arrived in Alice Springs and spent the night at the hospital there being treated for what was thought to be a sprained ankle.

Two x-rays were done but they did not pick up the fracture. Pain persisted and I needed an MRI scan to find out what the true extent of the damage was.

Eventually I was diagnosed with a fractured ankle, torn ligaments and detached cartilage. I have had three surgeries, including a cartilage transplant in March 2016.

Without the Flying Doctor, the medical centre and the hospital, it would have been a very miserable end to our holiday. We have always appreciated the service we received that night.

We have visited the RFDS Visitor Centre in Broken Hill and also donate regularly so the RFDS will be able to help tourists with unfortunate accidents in the Outback.

* Trent and Mark successfully completed the Lake Argyle swim on 6 May. You can see highlights of their journey on their Facebook page and donate to their fundraising campaign on their EverydayHero website page.

Trent and Mark undertaking the challenge
Trent and Mark at Lake Argyle for the RFDS