Patient Story -

Family fears worst for stranded bushwalkers

 “Our families assumed we were dead. All they knew was that Police, SES and RACQ CareFlight were searching for us – it wasn’t a good sign,” Marcus Barlow –lost bushwalker.

In just a split second a group of experienced bushwalkers were thrown into a terrifying tale of survival.

Lost on Toowoomba’s Table Top Mountain in freezing temperatures, the Warwick residents never imagined in their wildest dreams they would find themselves at the centre of a challenging air rescue operation.

After a night stranded in bushland doubting whether or not they would survive, Marcus Barlow, Deborah Barlow and Geoff Sexton had to be winched 40 metres into the RACQ CareFlight helicopter in September 2012.

While recently expressing his heartfelt gratitude to CareFlight, Marcus said spotting the blue and yellow chopper is a moment that will be etched in all of their memories forever.

“As time passed, we started to fear that they were looking in the wrong spot. Our families had all feared we were dead. We had to hope that the SES had enough information to find us” 

On that fateful day in September, Marcus, his wife, Deborah, and friend Geoff experienced that utter desperation followed by the overwhelming relief when RACQ CareFlight appeared in the sky.

Marcus has since spoken about how tightly he gripped his wife that night trying to keep them warm. He was concerned he was going to break her ribs.

"We were covered in ticks and it was freezing"

Only hours before, the trio had packed afternoon tea and headed up the ridge. But, in a race against the setting sun, the experienced walkers somehow drifted off course in their descent, finding themselves completely and utterly lost.

Desperate for help, Marcus phoned a friend who immediately notified the Police and SES of their predicament.

We were using our iPhone’s for light, which was chewing up batteries

Soon enough, they had little choice but to turn the phone off to conserve battery until morning. The dreaded notion sunk in; they would have to spend the night lost in Table Top Mountain.

They were close to exhaustion when they were forced to take refuge under a large tree.

We only had half an apricot, six cashew nuts and a quarter of a cup of water left

They got their bearings at sunrise and prayed the phone battery would hold out for one more call to give their coordinates. Marcus rang the SES but before he could give the information the phone died!

“We had all the measures in place but sometimes things just go wrong.”

When the group spotted the RACQ CareFlight helicopter Deborah took off her jacket and waved it like mad. It was finally over! With the chopper sitting in a hover, Paramedic Simon Cadzow was lowered down to the terrified trio.

“Simon was fantastic. He made sure none of us felt the least bit apprehensive at being winched into a rocking helicopter 40 metres above us,” he said.

You can only imagine the emotion that poured when the chopper touched down and the three were reunited with family and friends.

Often, people like the Barlow’s and Geoff rely on CareFlight when all other forms of emergency services are simply not an option. Thankful for their second chance, the Barlow’s recently visited the hangar to donate $3,000.

You can help provide happy endings for people like Marcus by giving to CareFlight today