Family of injured grandfather pays tribute to RACQ LifeFlight Rescue crew
For years Allan McKeering donated to the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter service not thinking he would ever need to use it.
That was until March this year when his world was turned upside down after falling from his horse.
The 62-year-old Kingaroy truck driver and farmer had a lot to look forward to including the impending arrival of three more grandchildren.
The previous night his daughter Annaleise Koolstra had broken the news that she and her husband Cheyne were expecting their third child.
As he prepared for a leisurely Sunday morning horse ride on his farm with his wife Carmel and family standing nearby, he had no idea everything was about to change.
As Allan tried to mount a former racehorse, ironically named Exhilarator, it reared, throwing him to the ground and then landed on him. He suffered a broken right ankle and leg and damaged a vertebra.
As Annaleise recalled, her father was in severe pain and complaining that he could not move his legs.
Ambulance officers arrived soon after to begin treating him, while an RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter was tasked to fly to the accident scene from its Maroochydore base on the Sunshine Coast.
“We are not dramatic people, in fact we are very private and quiet, but I was thinking: ‘This is a big deal’,” Annaleise said.
The four LifeFlight crew, including pilot Brent Hall and aircrew officer Rick Harvey landed within an hour, loading Allan onto the helicopter. They agreed to allow Carmel to travel with him to Nambour General Hospital given they had rarely been separated during 39 years of marriage.
After take-off, Annaleise and her husband were left behind to ‘pack up’ her parents’ home and make arrangements for the farm and animals, before driving to Nambour Hospital.
Yesterday, Allan and his family finally got to say thanks to the crew that saved his life.
He was reunited with Brent and Rick at LifeFlight’s Sunshine Coast base and was shown the BK-117 helicopter that was instrumental in Allan’s quick transport to hospital.
Allan’s family and the crew swapped stories of the fateful day and were shown how LifeFlight reaches rural families when they are in need of urgent medical attention.
Ironically Allan and Carmel McKeering have been making regular donations to LifeFlight for many years.
"How good is that. They ring us every six months for a donation and we're always happy to give it," Allan said.
"And the next thing you know they're turning up to help us which is just amazing how things work out. I felt so appreciative when I saw that helicopter turn up. I can't thank you enough and I think I'll always donate to LifeFlight but hopefully I won't need their services again."
RACQ LifeFlight Rescue pilot Brent Hall said it was a rewarding experience for the crew to have patients come back and say thank you.
"It's not often that we get to see the patients afterwards. We take them to hospital and wonder how they go with their injuries and rehabilitation,' Brent said.
"So it's fantastic that Allan and his family have come back today to share with us his experience and tell us that he is recovering."
After two weeks in hospital, three operations, eight months of rehabilitation and the frustration of being holed up at home on the couch, Allan is very much on the ‘road’ to recovery in all sense.
In fact he is back behind the wheel as a truck driver and enjoying the latest additions to his family including Annaleise’s baby son Fletcher, born on 12 September and two more grandchildren born in May.
Reflecting on the care provided by the LifeFlight team to her father, Annaleise was impressed by their calm, professionalism manner and will never forget their faces.
“I never thought we would be using LifeFlight because nobody thinks something bad is going to happen to them. Thank you to those amazing men and thank you to Life Flight. You will always hold a little place in my heart.”