2018 Winter Appeal

No one wakes up in the morning expecting to be involved in a horrible accident, or suffer a life-threatening medical emergency. 

But that was the reality for 24-year-old Sandy Morris.

Sandy, a rural firefighter from Hatton Vale, was – ironically - used to spending his days rescuing others from fires and car crashes. He was the last person who thought he would one day need saving.  

The day of Sandy’s rescue began like any other. He cuddled his young daughter Violet, went to work and never for a moment thought that RACQ LifeFlight Rescue would be racing to save his life at 11 o’clock that night.

Sandy had very little warning of what was to come. He was a firefighter in peak physical condition - fit and healthy. He only vaguely remembers feeling ‘warning signs’ of seizures but little else. 

But in a short space of time, Sandy soon found himself suffering seizure after seizure. They kept recurring and wouldn’t stop. 

“It was pretty scary and confusing when the seizures just kept coming,” Sandy said. 

It’s just lucky that his friend, who was visiting at the time, was there to dial triple-0. Without that initial assistance, who knows if Sandy would have had the strength to call for an ambulance himself?

Paramedics loaded Sandy into the ambulance and drove him, sirens blazing, to Gatton Hospital.

“The doctors at the hospital couldn’t get the seizures stopped or under control so they called in LifeFlight to urgently transport me to Brisbane,” Sandy said.

When the LifeFlight Critical Care Doctor arrived, it was clear that Sandy needed an immediate, rapid-response airlift by the Toowoomba-based RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter.

The sudden onset of his condition was so bad, Sandy was placed into an induced coma prior to flight.

“I was put into an induced coma and intubated, but still nothing managed to stop the seizures,” he said. 

“I was on the cusp, if LifeFlight didn’t come I wouldn’t be alive today.”

With no helipad available for landing at Gatton Hospital, LifeFlight Pilot, Simon Newman had to find the next best alternative which proved to be the Gatton Showgrounds. Under darkness, State Emergency Services and Queensland Police Service personnel worked quickly to clear a landing pad, removing debris and shining spotlights to light the way for the chopper. 

Seconds later it was touching down to save Sandy. 

While in the intensive-care unit, Sandy underwent a series of tests and treatments to determine the cause of his sudden recurring seizures. 

“It was all such a whirlwind. One minute I was fine at home and the next I knew I was waking up in an intensive care unit,” he said. 

When he was finally stable, Sandy was moved to a general ward where he spent four days recovering. It was around that time he learned that RACQ LifeFlight had helped save his life. It was a foreign concept for the firefighter who was used to doing the rescuing himself. 

“I’m normally the one out there doing the emergency stuff but it’s a bit different to be on the receiving end,” he said.

“I’m just very, very thankful the crew was there when they were needed.”

While Sandy is now out of hospital, doctors have been unable to identify the cause and sudden onset of his seizures. 

“They think its dissociative seizure disorders which are epilepsy-based, but there’s no full diagnosis yet. We’re just playing around with medications,” he said. 

After his ordeal, Sandy has reflected on what is most important in his life - his gorgeous daughter.

“To be able to have a second chance at being a dad and having a life again is unbelievable,” he said. “Words can’t describe how good a feeling it is to know Violet is going to grow up with her dad.”