When every second counts

Date published

30 May 2016

When Fay Townsing was threatened by severe asthma last Christmas, people like you helped save her life.

Husband Charles shares their Flying Doctor rescue …

Christmas Day

Fay didn't get up early as she normally did. That was the first warning sign. That night we got in the pool, but Fay didn't swim, just walked around in the shallow end. That was warning sign two. We'd been invited to our neighbours on the Darling River, about an hour away. Fay asked, "Do we really have to go?" Warning sign three.


At the neighbours everything was fine, Fay just seemed a little quiet. As we made to go home, Fay was slow coming to the car. She said, "You'll have to take me to the hospital." Then said she'd be OK if I could just get her home. One hour later When we got home, Fay couldn't get out of the car. I managed to get her inside, but she said "I'm no good at all". As she put her asthma mask on, she begged...

Boxing Day

Very early I opened all the gates for the ambulance so there'd be no delay. They brought in oxygen. On the way to the hospital, Fay said "I don't think I can make it to hospital". Fay had lost consciousness in the ambulance.

With no time to lose, they called the Flying Doctor. Before dawn I got a call about 4am when the Flying Doctor arrived. Dr Victoria Bradley said "come quickly to the hospital, your wife is very poorly." That shook me.


Fay was so weak it took nearly two hours to get her from the hospital in Wilcannia, into the ambulance to the airstrip, to be flown to Adelaide.

When we took off, I kept my eyes on Fay, hoping I could still see her breathing.

One hour later

When we landed at Broken Hill, they told us they were simply going to refuel and then fly Fay direct to Adelaide. They warned me "just before we take off you might see something that you don't want to see". They meant they may have to restart Fay's heart.

Two hours later

In Adelaide the doctors were just wonderful. They had to intubate her, and put her on a ventilator, to get her stable again. Everything went well, but it took until the third day for Fay to come to life again.


Fay turned 70 on 3 February, and because of the Flying Doctor we were able to celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary on 19 March. We thank everyone who made that possible. You gave us the greatest Christmas gift ever.

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