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Northern NSW : Rescue - Summer 2014
Nick Kennedy had offered to help a friend out on a quick job; pick up a couple of things and drop them off. But he didn’t even make it half a kilometre down the road. At 8.15am on Saturday 6 August, 2011, 17-year-old Nick left his home in Raymond Terrace. Just 400 metres into his trip he pulled into the southbound lane of the Pacific Highway when a car slammed into the drivers-side door at about 100km per hour. Nick doesn’t remember the accident. In fact, he only has two memories of the next 17 days. He woke up briefly in the Rescue Helicopter on the way to John Hunter Hospital but blacked out after his heart stopped. His next memory was waking from an induced coma almost three weeks later. After the accident, Nick’s dad, Peter – a local firefighter, was called down to the scene and helped pull Nick out of the car. ‘ Lots of people ask Dad whether that was traumatic, being one of the first on the scene. It was, he says, but his training took over and it was great he was there,’ Nick said. The Rescue Helicopter was called and paramedics drove Nick in an ambulance to a nearby helipad. His parents had already left by car to meet him at hospital and remember seeing the helicopter fly over as they drove down the Jesmond bypass. Nick’s injuries were severe. He suffered a compound fracture to his right leg, a gash on his left leg, broken ribs, a torn spleen, a tear in his liver and a severed aorta, which caused his heart to stop in-flight. The on-board paramedics revived him and when they arrived at John Hunter Hospital he was taken into the first of many surgeries. He suffered a stroke after four days and a collapsed lung a week later. When he woke, Nick was visited by the Service’s pilot and resident Chaplain, Ian Osborne. They chatted most weeks and prayed together. It was this kind of support from the whole community that helped him get through the worst of it, Nick said. ‘ T he doctors said that I probably wouldn’t have made it without the Rescue Helicopter. Its speed and the professionalism from everyone on board is amazing,’ he said. ‘It was great to be able to meet some of the crew and staff, and I hope to visit the base soon too.’ Nick was in hospital for 100 days and over the next 12 months he underwent more than a dozen surgeries, on his legs, quads, diaphragm and vocal cords. His treatment also included physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, speech therapy and counselling. After returning to school and finishing year 12, Nick wanted to give something back to the community that had looked after him. ‘I joined the Rural Fire Service. I wanted to do something to say thanks to the community. My captain was the one who told me about the Service’s Rescue Club, and I’m so thrilled to be involved in that now too.’ Three years on and everything is going pretty well. ‘Aside from the scars there’s nothing left of the accident except the story,’ Nick said. If you’ve ever been assisted by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service and would like to get in touch, please call us on 1800 155 155. Spread the word RescueClub 5 Rescue Magazine SUMMER 2014
Rescue - Spring 2014