A fighting chance | Richy's story

No one expects it. No one thinks it will happen to them.

But when it does, that freak accident, that unexpected calamity, everyone wants the same thing... a fighting chance to make it through.

That’s all Richy wanted when a routine job – building a shed for a client in a remote town at the end of a red-dirt road – went horribly wrong...

“It was early morning, and I was up a ladder. The next thing I knew, the ladder slid out from under me and in a split second I fell and jagged my arm onto a metal bracket. It tore open my arm up to my elbow.”

When Richy’s accident happened, he and his workmate, Matt, were a six hour drive away from the nearest hospital in Adelaide.

Richy Video

Richy instinctively knew that when he fell from that ladder, his life was on the line. And all he wanted in that moment was one more chance to make it back to the life and the people he loved.

“The pain was like nothing I’d ever experienced, and the blood was squirting like a water pistol. I knew straight away I’d cut a main artery.

All sorts of stuff went through my head. I shouted to Matt, ‘I don’t want to die here.’ I remember looking down at a big pool of blood and all I could think about was my family. My parents, my sisters, their kids. And I thought, ‘I’m not ready to leave them yet’.”

As soon as Richy’s workmate, Matt, realised what had happened, he also knew innately that he was in a race against time to close the distance between Richy and Royal Adelaide Hospital.

Thinking fast, Matt wrapped Richy’s arm in towelling and duct tape as best he could, and called for an ambulance. However, the nearest one was at Leigh Creek clinic, 40 kilometres away.

Knowing there was no time to waste, Matt bundled Richy into his ute and drove out to meet the ambulance halfway. 

Richy can still clearly remember the bumpy drive over rough dirt roads and creek crossings...

“I was in absolute agony, still losing a lot of blood, and on the brink of losing consciousness. Matt kept telling me to keep calm, but really, we were both scared as hell.”

The paramedics got a tourniquet on Richy’s arm, gave him some medication to reduce the pain, then drove straight to Leigh Creek clinic.

As they wheeled him into the clinic and the medics got to work on his dressings, Richy was probably starting to relax a little, thinking he was safe now. But his hopes were dashed in a few seconds...

“When the clinic staff took off the tourniquet to examine my arm, the first words I heard were... ‘This is really bad.’ I went into panic again and thought to myself, ‘I’m only 37 – is this how it all ends?’ That’s when we contacted the Flying Doctor.”

Richy's injury

"When I asked how many stitches were holding my arm together, the doctors said there were too many to count"

Richy and his father

Richy and his dad, pictured at Adelaide Royal Hospital shortly before he was discharged.

Richy back on the footy field

"My footy family got me through. To be able to defy the odds and take the field again makes me pretty proud."

On the 80-minute flight to Royal Adelaide Hospital with the Flying Doctor, everything went a bit blurry for Richy, but he does remember the feeling of hope you brought him...

“I heard the plane come in and just couldn’t wait to get on it. I don’t remember much of my flight, but I do remember an unconditional feeling of safety and reassurance. I’m so thankful to the Flying Doctor and everyone that was there for me that day.”

It took Richy two weeks in hospital, nine blood transfusions, and countless stitches, before he could finally get home.

But thanks to the remarkable supporters of the Flying Doctor, Richy's arm was saved. Richy's life was saved. 

“There are parts of my life that are still on hold. I can’t work. I can’t play footy. But I’m hopeful. And most importantly, I’ve been given a chance. For that, I owe you a debt of gratitude.

It’s only with your support that the tens of thousands of people living, travelling, or working in the outback, can take comfort in knowing that help is near when it gets down to the wire.”

Together we can make sure the Flying Doctor continues to save lives and give people like Richy a fighting chance.