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Northern NSW : Rescue Spring 2016
Never letting go In the last issue of Rescue we shared a story about the contribution of staff through the Workplace Giving Program at Strathearn. This story uncovered the tale of Joanne Mullins, an assistant in nursing at the Scone aged-care facility who is studying to be a registered nurse. Five years ago the Rescue Helicopter flew her from Port Macquarie Hospital to John Hunter Hospital. Joanne had been riding track work at Kempsey in January 2011 when, in her own words, she had a ‘buster’ off a horse at 60km/h. She died three times before she was even placed in an ambulance. ‘I was knocking three times up there [heaven] and he said you’re not comin’ in here,’ she jokes. ‘T he ambos did compression. They worked so hard, and then I was in so much pain in the ambulance going to Port Macquarie. ‘I was airlifted to John Hunter Hospital and my little brother was at the helipad and he was holding my hand as they transferred me from the chopper to the hospital. He went to let go of my hand for a second and the Rescue Helicopter crewie said: “ Don’t let go of her hand, don’t ever let go of her hand.” ‘ Joanne was in an induced coma on life support for two-and-a-half weeks and the doctors at John Hunter told her children every night to say ‘goodbye’ to their mother and that ‘she wouldn’t be there in the morning’. Patients can only stay on life support for so long and her children were adamant they did not want their mother to have a tracheotomy. Joanne was taken off life support. ‘I survived,’ she said. ‘W ithin a week I was up and walking.’ She had eight months off work and suffered post-traumatic stress. Despite her struggles she decided she wanted to help others. ‘Iwasinabadway,soIdidabridging course and got into nursing,’ she said. ‘I ’d been given a second chance at life. My youngest daughter was doing the HSC through it all and was inspired and now she’s a registered nurse.’ Joanne moved to the Hunter Valley and started work at Strathearn. ‘ I’m a big supporter of the Helicopter,’ she said. ‘ If it hadn’t been for them I’d be dead. I bought my first granddaughter a little helicopter toy as a present. It has pride of place on her dressing table. ‘My son has just been deployed to Iraq and I gave him the Westpac Rescue Helicopter 40th anniversary key ring as a keepsake. When I was being airlifted they said you’re in the best helicopter in the world and you won’t remember it. But I did.’ Joanne Mullins (second from right) with her children Bradley, Jasmine and Kimberley. ‘THEY BROUGHT ME BACK TO LIFE BECAUSE THEIR LOVE FOR ME WAS TOO STRONG AND I WAS DAMNED IF I WAS GOING TO MISS OUT SEEING THEM GROW INTO THE AMAZING ADULTS THEY HAVE BECOME,’ SAYS JOANNE. 22 Rescue Magazine SPRING 2016
Rescue Winter 2016