A mother's worst nightmare

What started out like a normal day for mother of four Susan Thorne, would later be one she remembers as “the worst day of our lives”.

More info

Susan had sent the youngest of her four boys off to school when the phone rang. There had been a serious car accident in their local town, Mount Gambier, South Australia. 

She instantly thought of her children. Were they safe? Worried sick, she called her eldest son Jack who had left for work earlier that morning, but there was no answer. 

Susan’s heart sank when she found out Jack never made it to work that morning.

Another vehicle had failed to stop at an intersection, and when Jack swerved to avoid a collision his car slammed into a tree. 

Graphic: Jack in hospital

When the paramedics arrived Jack was trapped in his car, barely conscious, bleeding and struggling to breathe. It took an hour to free him from the wreckage and with each minute passing, his condition worsened.

Jack arrived at the local hospital in a serious condition and in extreme pain.      “Jack’s condition was so critical he needed to be urgently airlifted from Mount Gambier to Adelaide to save his life,” says Susan. 

It would have taken at least five hours to transport Jack to Adelaide by ambulance, but the medical team knew they didn’t have much time. 

That’s when they made the important call to the Royal Flying Doctor Service. 

With a ‘flying intensive care unit,’ the Flying Doctor provided the same level of care as a hospital emergency ward… 10,000 feet in the air.

Jack was very unstable during the flight and Susan describes the 435-kilometre journey as “the longest hour of my life”.

The Flying Doctor team on board knew Jack required close monitoring and care. 

“But it’s not just the physical care they provide. The crew looked after me and offered incredible emotional support,” says Susan.

When the aircraft arrived in Adelaide Jack’s extensive injuries became clear. With bleeding to the brain, a fractured pelvis and lacerations to his head, Jack was place in an induced coma. 

Jack's recovery

After a month in hospital, two operations and multiple blood transfusions the Flying Doctor flew Jack back to his local hospital so he could be closer to his family. 

Today, Jack is back at work, has started playing football again and is thankful to be getting back to his normal self. 

“We have no doubt that the RFDS saved Jack’s life. Without you we would have lost our son,” says a thankful Susan. 

Every two minutes someone, somewhere in Australia depends on the Flying Doctor. For the last 90 years our crew has been at the ready, day and night, but we can’t do it without you.  So today, we are we are asking for your help.  

This tax time, we hope to raise $841,000 to equip the Flying Doctor with the very best medical equipment and highly trained crew needed to save the lives of people like Jack.  

With your support, we can continue to provide essential care to people who live, work and travel in regional and remote areas.