Courtney with nurse

Graphic: Courtney with nurse

Courtney's Story

Date published

17 Jan 2019

Fifteen-year-old Courtney Sheil was a long way from the nearest hospital when she fell off her motorbike and hit her head. She couldn’t be more grateful for the Flying Doctor team who were there to answer her father David’s call for help.

When Courtney’s accident happened she was visiting family friends on their 75,000-acre sheep station outside the small town of Tilpa in the far west of NSW.

Riding a Yamaha 250 bike, Courtney was about an hour’s ride from the residence when she struck trouble.

“I went into a corner a bit too quick and hit some thick bull dust,” Courtney explained.

“I crashed my bike and hit my head hard. I had pain in my head, neck and leg, I couldn’t see properly, I was confused and in a lot of pain.”

Courtney was riding with her uncle and cousin when they noticed her missing from the group. After tracing back their tracks, they found Courtney injured and crying on the side of the track.

Courtney’s uncle rode his motorbike for 30 kilometres to get help and she was transported by vehicle to the farmhouse.

David Sheil, Courtney’s father, said: “She wasn’t in a good way when they got her back to the house.”

Once she arrived back at the farmhouse, Courtney’s condition deteriorated quickly.

She couldn’t remember the incident, was extremely confused, felt nauseous, and could not focus or see correctly, David recalled.

After two hours, when things didn’t improve, a very worried David called the Flying Doctors to discuss her condition.

The RFDS was concerned that Courtney could have a deteriorating head and neck injury and said they would send an aircraft out to retrieve Courtney.

About 45 minutes later a RFDS aircraft, carrying a flight nurse and two doctors from Broken Hill, landed at the property’s dirt airstrip.

David said it was a great relief to see the RFDS.

“You don’t realise how remote it is out there until you need help. It was spectacular to watch them in action.”

Concerned that she may have sustained serious injuries to her head and neck, the Flying Doctor crew airlifted Courtney to Dubbo for MRI scans and x-rays.

“Thanks to the expert medical treatment from the doctors and nurses of the RFDS, Courtney’s condition improved and apart from some minor surgery she suffered no long-term effects from her injuries,” David said.

Courtney made a full recovery and said she hoped to get back on a motorbike soon.

“I’m so thankful to the Flying Doctors for rescuing and helping me,” Courtney said.

“They were really professional and knew exactly what they were doing. I knew I was in good hands just talking to them, they were super friendly and caring.”

Courtney was invited to the Dubbo RFDS facility in October to meet with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and was able to thank flight nurse Leisl Moffat who looked after her at the time of the accident.