Graphic: Leroy Henderson
Leroy nearly lost his life, but it had started as just an ordinary day at work. He was making a delivery to nearby gymkhana grounds, behind the wheel of a buggy with two workmates.
“It was only about 500 metres from the grounds when I rolled the buggy on a corner. I was thrown out the side and it rolled over me and landed on my arm. It pretty much cut my arm off on the spot.”
Leroy’s two workmates sprang into action and pulled the buggy back over. Leroy used a lanyard he was wearing to make a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. This quick thinking helped to save his life.
His mates drove him back to the Roadhouse and phoned for the Flying Doctor. At the Roadhouse, Mia Degoumois and her mother-in-law took over applying first aid, with the help of a few locals.
“They gave me some painkillers, which helped,” recalls Leroy. “I was conscious the whole time but they almost knocked me out.
“The best relief was realising I was on the aircraft and knowing that I’m on the way to the best help I can get. That was a big relief to me after what had happened.”
Leroy was flown to Adelaide where his arm had to be amputated. After four months of recovery and rehabilitation he went back to work at the Roadhouse. “My outlook on life is positive,” says Leroy. “I’m just glad to be here. There’s nothing I can do about it, just look to the future, that’s what I’m doing. Make my future as good as possible.”
Since his accident, Leroy was inspired to train as a volunteer ambulance officer. He wanted to give back, to provide life-saving emergency care to others who are at their most vulnerable, injured in the Outback.
“I’m the first amputee volunteer ambulance officer in NSW,” says Leroy. “When you’re driving out there’s always that thought in your head: ‘Do I know this person? Is it family? Is it a friend?’.
“As soon as someone needs further attention we call the Flying Doctor. You never know when you’ll need it or who’ll be on the receiving end.
“In that case it was me. I want to give back. The Flying Doctor saved my life. Maybe I can save someone else’s.”