Miles from anywhere, hours from help
A letter from Phil...
I'm sharing this story today for two reasons close to my heart.
The first is because I’m a Flying Doctor supporter just like you.
And the second is because I have also been rescued by the Flying Doctor – so I share a special kind of connection with the many people you’ve helped to make it safely home in the past.
And I can tell you, from both perspectives… your support saves lives. It saved mine.
My accident happened when a road trip I was on with two of my best mates last summer went badly wrong.
It was a 1,300km round-trip, taking dual-purpose motorcycles up the Birdsville track to celebrate the 70th birthday of our mate Bill. The three of us are very experienced motorcycling enthusiasts.
We’ve covered thousands of kilometres on-road and off-road together. So we know what we’re doing. And we plan our trips carefully. But sometimes, life has other plans for you.
Bill's birthday was on day two so once we finished riding, we stopped to have a celebratory beer and a meal for Bill’s birthday at the Birdsville Pub. We enjoyed a great night chatting with the locals and met a young couple called Sarah and Luke, who were touring the region in a campervan. We didn’t know it at the time, but we would meet them again on the road.
The next day, we started our return leg back to Adelaide, and things never felt right. I was leading and we were on a nice gravel road doing about 80km, and up ahead I saw a darker patch of road and thought, “what’s this?”
There’s a routine you use if you come across something you’re not sure about… I’d done it countless times before. Never a problem. But this time was different.
Although the gravel looked dry on top, just under the surface was slimy wet clay. It was like an ice rink. The second I hit it, the bike shot sideways and the rest is a blank to me.
According to Bill, my bike slapped violently left and right about eight or ten times, then I somersaulted about six feet in the air before hitting the road and cartwheeling numerous times. I was knocked unconscious instantly.
We’d barely seen a car on the road all morning, but it turned out that 10 minutes down the road behind us were Sarah and Luke, the couple we’d chatted to in the pub the night before. And amazingly for me, Sarah was a nurse!
I remember waking up and seeing Sarah. She was talking to me, asking me questions, trying to assess how bad I was.I knew right away I was in really bad shape.
I caught sight of one hand at right angles, and Sarah said, “That’s the good one. Don’t look at the other one.”
"I was in a lot of pain. Still in a lot of shock. I was miles from anywhere. Hours from home. And unable to move."
If it wasn’t for generous people like you who support the Flying Doctor, I think I’d have been pretty buggered. I don’t even know if I’d have made it back home, frankly.
I remember laying there on the road in the heat, and in the background I heard someone say that radio contact had been made with the Flying Doctor and they were on their way. I instantly felt reassurance.
Once I could hear the sound of the plane approaching, I thought, “Thank God! The Flying Doctor is here!”
I was still two hours and a thousand kilometres from home, and I knew I had a massive road to recovery ahead of me, but I was overwhelmed with this feeling of deep humility. I’m so grateful that I live in this fantastic country where outback hospitality extends way beyond the norm, and where we have a service like the Flying Doctor, that can pluck you off a dusty track hundreds of kilometres from home and bring you to safety. I know that without people like you and your support, the Flying Doctor wouldn’t be able to do what it does. I know that you got me home. And I will always be grateful to you for that.
That’s why one of the first things I did after leaving hospital, was sign-up as a regular monthly donor. Because we’re all in this together, and none of us knows when we or one of our loved ones might need the Flying Doctor.
The Flying Doctor really goes above and beyond. But they can’t do it without help from people like you and me.
So I really hope you’ll join me in supporting their Summer Appeal with a generous donation today.
With my deep gratitude,
Flying Doctor rescuee, and supporter.