Grazier Anna Ullrich was mustering cattle on an unfamiliar station in the shire of Murchison in October 2017 when her quad bike slammed into the fence of an old horse paddock at high speed.
These days, 27-year-old grazier Anna Ullrich from the Upper Gascoyne, is fully recovered and in good spirits after fracturing her neck in two places, suffering a minor concussion and damaging her vocal chords.
Anna counts herself lucky that a crate on the front of her quad took the first impact before she was flung off the bike and knocked unconscious.
“I was mustering on a new property and I didn’t know my way around,” she said.
“I was following a fence line when another fence appeared in front of me. I was going too fast and it was too late to stop.”
When she came to, Anna sensed she was in serious trouble and managed to call her partner and the muster pilot for assistance on the two-way. They were able to come to her aid in minutes.
“My partner stayed with me the whole time while the pilot went back to the homestead to ring the RFDS,” she said.
“The pilot returned with an old shearing bed with a thin mattress and they strapped me on, my partner’s shirt did the job to support my neck.
“The boys put me on the back of the Ute and we made our way to the nearest registered airstrip to meet the RFDS plane. Those are just the things you have to do out here if you’ve got nothing on hand.”
The trio then made a 90-minute journey to the nearest airstrip and arrived just five minutes before the Flying Doctor did from Perth.
Anna was greeted by RFDS crew who put her in a neck brace and loaded her onto the plane. While in-flight, Anna remembers the doctor checking her for internal bleeding and receiving an infusion of pain relief.
“Straight away I felt like I was in very good hands,” she said.
“Once we landed in Perth, the doctor even came with all the way to the emergency. It gave me comfort at the time to have someone around, he made sure I was treated first because of the time that had past.”
A series of x-rays, an MRI and a nasoendoscopy later, Anna was made to wear a neck brace for three months and ordered not to eat or speak for the next few days.
Anna said she hopes that through her story, people living in remote and rural properties will ensure they are appropriately prepared in the case of an emergency.
“I urge people to check if their airstrip is maintained and registered, if not just ring the RFDS to find out where the nearest one is,” she said.
“In case of emergency, especially with the danger of gravel roads, snakes, hot weather or working on machinery, it saves you time especially when you have to act quick.
“When you live that remote, the service of the RFDS is essential and it is a relief to know that they are there to help if we ever needed them.”