Darryl Hucks has worked on road gangs repairing roads in outback South Australia for 30 years.
His work day began as normal – with a 5:00am outback breakfast – 25 kilometres north-west of William Creek, on a remote part of the Oodnadatta Track, 700km north of Adelaide.
But Darryl suddenly felt terrible pain across his chest and upper back and his own knowledge of First Aid brought a terrifying realisation – he was having a heart attack.
“I just felt like someone was trying to push a crowbar through my shoulder blade. I told my work mates and they put the AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) on me – in case we needed it – and I lay down on the ground,” Darryl recalls.
Work mates made urgent contact with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and the RFDS Doctor prescribed aspirin to help combat blood clotting – and advised that a RFDS aircraft with an aeromedical team on board was on its way to William Creek, the nearest suitable airstrip.
Darryl’s work mates loaded Darryl onto a truck and painstakingly transported him to William Creek at just 15km/hour – on a dirt road the whole way.
“I actually died on the way to William Creek – I was unconscious and they zapped me with the AED,” Darryl says.
Darryl lay in the back of the truck gravely ill – but alive – for the rest of the journey to William Creek.
When the anxious party met the RFDS aeromedical team at a shed at
William Creek airstrip, the RFDS Doctor urgently administered a lifesaving
clot-busting drug to stabilise him for the flight to the Royal Adelaide
Soon after, Darryl’s work mates watched the RFDS aircraft rise into the sky, carrying Darryl speedily to hospital and the critical care he so desperately needed.
The 700km flight from William Creek to Adelaide takes just 100 minutes. The same trip by road takes 10 hours!
On arrival at the RAH, Darryl underwent emergency heart surgery to have a stent inserted to maintain
crucial blood flow – incredibly, just hours after his heart attack happened deep in the Australian outback.
Darryl is deeply grateful to everyone involved – he knows teamwork on the ground – and in the air – saved his life.
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with the Royal Flying Doctor Service
The RFDS performs 100 aeromedical missions across Australia every day – over 15 flights in South Australia – to airlift a critically-injured patient like Darryl from an outback location or a country hospital to a major hospital for life-saving surgery or specialist care.
The RFDS also delivers critical support to those who live in urban centres. This includes the regular transfer of patients to interstate hospitals for life-saving surgery such as organ transplant and heart surgery on newborn babies.
We rely on bequests, sponsorships and donations to bridge the gap in our operational funding and to purchase our ‘flying intensive care units’ – at a cost of more than $7 million each.