Patient Story -

Baby airlifted when Bruce Highway cut by floods

A baby girl who might never have celebrated her first birthday popped into our hangar at the Sunshine Coast Airport to thank the crew for the role it played in saving her life.

In January 2011, little Pippa Nevett was born, but her right lung collapsed shortly afterwards and in the hours which followed her fight for life became critical.

She needed acute medical care which could only be offered at the Royal Brisbane Children's Hospital but Brisbane was in the grip of flood. The Bruce Highway was cut off, water was lapping at the Hospital door and its car park was underwater.

Pippa was transferred from the Sunshine Coast Private Hospital to Nambour General where our helicopter (formerly the AGL Action Rescue Helicopter), carrying a specialist paediatric doctor and nurse, swooped to her rescue. Her mother Louise followed by road ambulance when the flood waters cleared.

She she had no doubt that Pippa owed her life to the rescue helicopter.

"There was no other way to get to Brisbane," said Mrs Nevett.

Helicopter crewman Scott Reeman remembers the day vividly.

"She was so little and she had all those tubes. You feel for the parents," said Scott, whose own son Henry was only 10 months old at the time.

"All around Caboolture the roads were flooded. We were able to fly to the hospital in 25 minutes, it would have taken at least four hours by road - and then only if we could get through."

The full reality of the dire situation they had faced only hit home when Pippa's mum watched the flood scenes to commemorate the first anniversary.

"At the time it was so surreal," said Mrs Nevett. "But seeing how the flood waters were on television had a big impact."   

Three weeks later this courageous baby girl finally came home, joining her father Christian and sister Milly at their Tewantin home.