Graphic: Lucy Padfield patient story

RFDS' flying ICU a saving grace for Pilbara family

Date published

25 May 2021

In the past year, more than 9,000 people from across Western Australia depended on the Flying Doctor in their time of need. The Padfield family know first-hand just how essential these aeromedical retrievals are to families living across regional Western Australia.

PC-24 responded to Lucy retrieval

In December last year, the Padfield family were enjoying an afternoon swim in their backyard pool in Tom Price when their three-year-old daughter Lucy slipped off the edge and nearly drowned.

When Lucy was pulled out from the bottom of their family's pool, she wasn't breathing and had turned blue.

"My husband pulled her out and started CPR but there was no response. The wait for the ambulance felt like forever," Lucy's mum Amy said.

"After a few rounds of CPR, Lucy started breathing and crying and the relief was immense. We just couldn't believe we had our Lucy back."

But Lucy wasn't out of the woods yet. Still very unwell, the RFDS was called to fly Lucy to Perth Children's Hospital to receive the specialist care she desperately needed.

“She wouldn’t talk, wouldn’t open her eyes but she would squeeze my hand a couple of times, but we knew she wasn’t our little chatty and feisty Lucy just yet,” Amy said.

The Padfield family were relieved to hear the Rio Tinto LifeFlight PC-24 jet carrying an RFDS medical crew had landed at Paraburdoo Airport, 70 kilometres from Tom Price.

Graphic: Lucy Padfield family drowning

Under police lights and sirens, the RFDS medical team was escorted to Tom Price Hospital where they were able to stabilise Lucy’s condition and prepare her for the flight to Perth - a 1,530km journey that would take just under two hours by air but nearly 16 hours by road.

Lucy received vital medical care during the flight. A gift today helps equip our crews with essential equipment needed for our patients en route to specialist care. 

On board the Rio Tinto LifeFlight PC-24 jet, the RFDS medical crew worked as though they were in an intensive care unit, taking and reading blood tests, monitoring Lucy’s oxygen levels and vital signs on the way to Perth.

“It’s incredible how much the medical crew were able to do on the aircraft,” Amy shared.

Your gift today will help provide the vital medical equipment that allows our crews to run blood tests and monitor oxygen levels mid-flight.

Graphic: Lucy Padfield family

“The doctor and nurse made sure I was kept informed about everything that was happening which put me at ease. They were so kind I just didn’t have to worry because I just knew they knew what they were doing.”

“When we got to Jandakot Airport, an RFDS doctor hopped into the ambulance with us and escorted us to Perth Children’s Hospital which I was very grateful for.”

Lucy stayed at Perth Children’s Hospital for four days. She was treated for fluid in her lungs and monitored closely. Then, she was able to go home.

Thanks to generous people like you, Lucy was happily splashing away at the beach with her family just days later on Boxing Day.

“Lucy has always loved the water and I’m glad her fighting spirit is still intact.”


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As demand for our life-saving service across the State continues to grow, your generosity helps us be there for families like the Padfields when they need us most.

Your support helps provide vital equipment and training, ensuring our highly qualified crews are ready to respond at a moment’s notice.

As we approach the end of the financial year, please consider making a much-needed tax deductible donation to the RFDS WA.

The impact our crews and generous people like you have on patients just like little Lucy is an immense privilege. Thank you for all you do to support the Flying Doctor.

Stories like Lucy’s are a testament to why your support is so essential. You help us continue to provide a mantle of safety for everyone that works, lives or travels across regional Western Australia.  

Please send a gift to support Western Australian families by 30 June and claim your donation on your tax return.