Michelle RFDS patient

“Every day I open my eyes and think, ‘Wow, I’m alive'...

Date published

17 Dec 2018

Michelle was 13 weeks pregnant when she had a shocking accident on her farm near West Wyalong, in central western NSW.  

“I wasn’t even supposed to be anywhere near the grain loading area that day. But my uncle asked me to give him a hand with the grain auger. I went to turn it off, and that’s when my ponytail got caught in the driveshaft. I was completely scalped,” she recalls. 

“I knew instantly what I’d done. You hear about these instances all the time, but you never think that it’s ever going to happen to you or anyone you know.” 

But sadly accidents can strike anywhere at any time, and can affect anyone. 

That’s why the Royal Flying Doctor Service maintains a fleet of 21 aircraft, operating out of six bases, staffed by highly skilled medical staff, pilots and ground crew, right across South Eastern Australia. 

It is an invaluable lifeline to the thousands of people living in remote parts of the state who do not have access to vital emergency care when accidents happen. 

Our staff perform almost 700 life-saving rescues every year and a further 7,600 hospital transfer flights. 

But to do this year in, year out, we must make sure all of our aircraft are state-of the-art, fully equipped, flying intensive care units fit for any emergency situation – which costs an average of $133,000 per aircraft per year. 

And that’s why we’re counting on your help.  Because people like Michelle need us - and you - literally every day. 

Michelle was 13 weeks pregnant when a farming accident nearly took her life...

Michelle was 13 weeks pregnant when a farming accident nearly took her life...

In the moments after her traumatic accident, as the shock of having her entire scalp torn off by a grain auger sank in, Michelle knew she could do nothing but put her fate in the hands of the emergency services. 

First she was rushed by road ambulance to West Wyalong hospital some 50 kilometres away. But when the doctors there saw the extent of her injuries, they knew straight away Michelle would need to be airlifted to Sydney. So the Flying Doctor was called in. 

“The doctors and nurses at West Wyalong hospital had never seen anything like what had happened to me. You could tell they were really nervous. And that made me feel nervous,” Michelle recalls. 

“Then the Flying Doctor walked in through Emergency and instantly the whole atmosphere changed. As soon as I was with the Flying Doctor I knew I was right.”  

On board with RFDS pilot Tim Griffiths, flight nurse Nathan Semmler and Dr Ben Darveniza, Michelle was flown straight to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney for a full-head skin graft. 

The flight nurse on board, who is also a qualified midwife, kept a close eye on Michelle’s unborn baby during the flight and remembers how calm Michelle was, in spite of her injury. 

Because without the support of good people like you, we would not be able to keep our fleet of aircraft in the air and fully equipped with all the modern, up-to-date equipment needed to help save the lives of people like Michelle and her unborn baby. 

No one knows better than Michelle just how important the Royal Flying Doctor Service is.  As she told us herself... 

“Every day I open my eyes and I think, ‘Wow! I’m alive.’ And I’ve got the Flying Doctor to thank for that," Michelle says. 

“If the Flying Doctor wasn’t there, and I couldn’t get the specialist attention I needed, my children wouldn’t have a mum. And I wouldn’t be enjoying the greatest gift there is: life.” 

In the event of a life-or-death crisis the Royal Flying Doctor Service is a lifeline. 

And people like you are the key to keeping us flying.