The quick thinking and cool-headed response of four Mount Isa locals to a tragic Christmas Eve boating accident has seen the group awarded the 2019 RFDS Queensland Hero Award.
Alerted by an EPERB device, helicopter pilot Simon Steel and his friend Jim Lillecrapp were first on the scene at Lake Julius, 70km north east of Mount Isa. What they encountered was a family of four whose boat had collided with an underwater log, resulting in serious and life-threatening injuries.
Robert and Belinda Worlein arrived soon after by boat after also being alerted to the emergency. Using their boat, they managed to tow the injured family to a more suitable area where they could be accessed by the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Queensland Ambulance Service medical crews who were already on their way.
Their incredible efforts did not stop there, with the four staying on the scene, assisting medical crews well into the night.
The patients were eventually flown to Mount Isa before being transported to Townsville for life-saving specialist care. They are all now back home in Mount Isa.
For their efforts, Simon, Jim, Belinda and Robert were presented with the 2019 RFDS Queensland Hero Award by Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles in front of more than 750 guests by at the RFDS Wings for Life Gala in Brisbane on Saturday night.
They were chosen out of nine recipients of the 2019 RFDS Local Hero Awards from around the state, announced earlier this year.
As part of the award, the group was given a $7,500 grant donated by Ergon Energy Retail to be used to improve health outcomes for their community.
They said the money would be used to assist in the delivery of mental health outreach programs to people in North West Queensland.
Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) CEO, Meredith Staib said the calm, caring and skilful assistance the group provided on the day was crucial to the overall success of the retrieval and the positive outcomes of the patients involved.
“It takes someone special to find the courage to jump into a situation such as these four found themselves in at Lake Julius,” Meredith said.
“Their quick thinking and skilful handling of the situation while the RFDS and emergency crews made their way to the site, I truly believe, saved more than one life that day.
“Without people like Simon, Jim, Belinda and Robert, and all of the other RFDS Local Hero Award winners from around the state, we would not be able to continue the work we do.”
Ergon Energy Retail Executive General Manager Cheryl Hopkins said the organisation was proud to be in its 19th year of supporting the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Queensland through the voluntary donations of its customers, and the fourth year of supporting the RFDS Local Hero Awards.
“I’m so proud that Ergon Energy Retail is connected with such wonderful Queenslanders who make such a difference to the lives of so many every day.
“All nine finalists are heroes in my view and represent the heart and soul of their local communities,” Cheryl said.