“If it wasn’t for these boys in this chopper – and if we don’t look after these people – and keep this kind of equipment going, we’re going to be in serious trouble.
“I was only out on the road, there, and I would have never made it back,” she said.
The 60-year-old truckie was driving near Oakey, in February, when a rogue piece of steel came loose from a truck travelling in the opposite direction to her and smashed through her windscreen.
Toowoomba’s RACQ LifeFlight Rescue crew was urgently called to the Warrego Highway scene.
LifeFlight’s Critical Care Doctor, Jacob Crosdale, said information was limited, but they knew the patient they were travelling toward was very unwell.
“When we arrived, she was barely conscious,” he said.
The steel pole had impaled Margaret through the right side of her chest, piercing her lung and pinning her up against the seat of the truck.
Astoundingly, she had managed to safely pull the truck to the side of the road.
“I couldn’t knock the cruise control off… and I couldn’t reach my pedals, because I was pushed back into the seat,” Margaret said.
“So I just had to really study things, and work out how I was going to deal with the situation and try and get that truck off the road, without killing anybody.”
Other truckies, who were also pulled over, noticed the smashed windscreen and came to Margaret’s aid.
She says she feared she would never see her children, or grandchildren, again.
“I thought I was taking my last breath.
“I really thought I was going to die,” she said.
Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) Critical Care Flight Paramedic, Simon Cadzow, said time was of the essence, when it came to saving Margaret’s life.
“We decided that nothing was going to happen in the truck, because it was just too complex a situation, so we prepared our equipment on the ground… and then proceeded, with the fire service as assistance, to rapidly extricate her out, holding the bar manually,” he said.
“As we made the move from sitting behind the wheel, to flat on the extrication board, she lost signs of life,” Dr Crosdale said.
Under the care of LifeFlight’s Critical Care Doctor and Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) Critical Care Flight Paramedic, Margaret was flown to Princess Alexandra Hospital, in a critical condition.
To safely travel to Brisbane, some of the steel rod had to be cut off, so it wouldn’t further injure Margaret.
RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Pilot, Murray Gladwin, says he will never forget the half hour flight from Toowoomba to Brisbane.
“The doctor told me to have a look at Margaret’s chest and you could see the steel rod, obviously still poking out, but you could actually see it move in harmony with her heart,” he said.
Thankfully, Margaret was well on the road to recovery just weeks after the accident, even joking that it’s a shame she can’t remember her flight, because she loves helicopter rides!
“I’m chopper mad!”
Margaret will be one of RACQ LifeFlight Rescue’s guests of honour at the 2019 Toowoomba Ball, which is happening on Saturday July 20th at the Empire Theatre.
“You don’t get a second chance at life, so you’ve gotta have a go at it!”