Riley Tomlin lay bleeding, dying in a central Queensland field without reception, kilometres away from the nearest town.
- A central Queensland cattle station worker impaled his leg in a motorbike crash
- His workmates’ heroic actions saved his life through applying pressure to his injuries and getting help
- They used a satellite GPS messenger device to send an instant SOS signal to rescuers with his exact location
Pegunny Station manager Pat McKenna was just days into his job when he used his hands to put pressure on his workmate’s gaping wound and prayed he would live.
He was helped by a young colleague who pressed a button on a pager-like device clipped to the injured man’s leather belt. It summoned a helicopter rescue crew who would save his life.
Mr Tomlin, 25, doesn’t remember any of it.
In his mind, it went like this — a wobble, a crash, excruciating pain and a warped view of a helicopter roof. Then a hospital bed, 20 staples and a worry that he might not be able to ride again.
He doesn’t remember Mr McKenna’s valiant efforts or the John Wayne-esque horseback manoeuvre he had pulled to reach him so quickly.
And until Tuesday, he had never met the helicopter paramedics who winched him to safety.
Mr Tomlin’s visit to RACQ’s Capricorn Rescue Helicopter headquarters was heralded by smiles and handshakes.
‘That’s what the bush is about’
It was almost five months to the day that he crashed his motorbike while mustering cattle, some 40km from Moura in, and impaled his leg on part of the mud flap.
“One took off away from the mob and I went after it,” Mr Tomlin said.
“Not knowing the country, I guess I’ve come off.
Mr McKenna remembered his heart sinking as he watched the accident and said he had never reacted so quickly.
“It was only a matter of 30 seconds to a minute, and I was there with him and applying pressure to the wound,” he said.
Their other colleague pressed the call button on their satellite tracker to send a rescue signal to emergency services.
“It sends off a GPS signal of our exact locations,” Mr Tomlin said.
“It’s got a couple of different modes … it’s got ‘OK’… and ‘Need help’, and ‘SOS’ is obviously what happened to me.
A lifesaving combination
Helicopter crewman Todd Simpson said the quick-thinking efforts of Mr Tomlin’s workmates were a vital part of the response.
“The communications from remote locations to emergency services is what saves lives,” he said.
“This job’s a prime example of that — middle of the paddock, they are quite hard to find at times.
“Road crews can take three times as long to get across uneven ground to get to the patients.”
A ‘grateful’ donation
Station director Ben Hewitt said the company would be making a donation to RACQ Rescue as a show of gratitude to the service
“It was a bad accident, we’ve had a really great outcome, he said.
“We thought it was important to recognise … a service like this that supports others in the area and avoid anyone ending up with a worse situation to what happened on that day.”
Mr Hewitt said the workers on the station felt the emotional impact of the accident.
“We are essentially a family business and all the guys that work for us we all know on a personal level,” he said.
“It affected the crew out at Pegunny [Station] pretty heavily.”
Mr Tomlin returned to the station four days after the accident.
He is already back to “chasing cows and all that fun stuff”.