Agricultural pilot Brian Barney had decades of flying experience under his belt.
In October 2016, Brian was spraying crops at a low altitude on a 2000ha property in Central Queensland, south-east of Emerald, like he had done countless times before when his plane clipped a tree and crashed into the ground.
Despite suffering serious chest and abdominal injuries, a pelvic injury and a fractured right ankle in the crash, Brian said he couldn’t feel a thing.
Brian lay helpless for one-and-a-half hours until a farmer from a neighbouring property spotted the wreckage and dialled triple-0. At this stage, Brian was critical. He wouldn’t survive the three-hour drive to hospital so treatment on-scene and an emergency air-medical flight was Brian’s best chance of survival.
In order to save Brian’s life, LifeFlight doctor, Dr Schonewille had to perform an emergency surgical procedure.
“I had no choice but to anesthetize and intubate him, and perform the procedure, using the back of a QAS ambulance as a makeshift operating theatre,” he said.
During the short flight to hospital, Brian’s blood pressure dropped dangerously low. He needed more blood, so Doctor Schonewille rang the receiving hospital and told them to ready blood supplies and get a consultant surgeon on standby immediately.
Miraculously, Brian pulled through his life-threatening injuries thanks to the expert medical care he received from Dr Schonewille.
“Having a LifeFlight doctor on board who could transfuse blood and operate on me out in the field saved my life,” said Brian.
LifeFlight will welcome a new intake of Doctors in just a few short months and will need to cover the cost of this vital and lifesaving training once again.
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Brian is nearly back to full health after his ordeal, and he’s even planning to get back into the cockpit one day soon.
His story is a great reminder that whether you’re from the city or a remote community, if you’re in a desperate situation, an incredibly skilled LifeFlight doctor is just a short flight away.