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Northern NSW : Rescue Winter 2017
Memories, light the corners of [the] mind, as the song goes. Chris Griffith and Rachel Sutton-Griffith have both been rescued by the Rescue Helicopter and both suffered post- traumatic amnesia as a result of the accidents that necessitated the rescue. Chris could not recall anything for more than a month after a head-on motorcycle accident. Rachel still defers to Chris to tell her story because she has no recall of a horrific car accident. In October 2010 the then 20-year-old Rachel dropped Chris off at his parents’ house on the outskirts of Wingham. Chris picks up the story. ‘I heard this loud noise and glass breaking and I thought that doesn’t sound right, so I went to have a look. It was nearly dark by then,’ he says. ‘ I could see a car in a paddock and I thought, well, Rachel’s not involved. And then as I got closer I could see another car all mangled up. I only picked it as Rachel’s car because I recognised a badly damaged mag wheel.’ A neighbour had already rung triple-0. ‘W hen I got to her, Rachel was half out of the car,’ says Chris. ‘ She started to gurgle after a couple of seconds and I realised she was still alive.’ It took two hours to extract Rachel from her car. ‘Just hearing that helicopter coming, you just get the sense that everything is going to be all right’, says Chris. Rachel was transported to John Hunter Hospital where she remained for six weeks before being transferred to Rankin Park for rehabilitation. All-up she was in Newcastle for about seven- and-a -half months. She had suffered a severe head injury, and multiple broken bones including her pelvis, the top of her right arm, both knees, right ankle, right femur, ribs and wrists. Her left ankle was also dislocated. Rachel can’t remember being at the John Hunter Hospital and it was a long time before she remembered anything about rehab at Rankin Park. Her whole body had shut down. Rachel has made a remarkable recovery, but it took a while and she acknowledges the ‘tremendous support’ of Chris, his family, and her family. The couple married three years after Rachel’s accident and they now have two beautiful daughters, Alyvia and Maycie. ‘ Chris proposed to me in hospital, but we just wanted to wait until I was out. I was unsure if I would walk again,’ says Rachel. Chris needed help back at the turn of the century. ‘ I’m pretty sure it was 2001,’ he says. ‘ I had a motorbike crash on a private property. I broke my femur and a couple of my knuckles and I suffered head injuries as well. ‘ I wasn’t with it for a couple of months and didn’t know what was going on. Post-traumatic amnesia I think it was. Rachel had that as well, for a very long time.’ Memories can be good and bad, all at the same time, as Rachel knows. Recently she saw the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service attending an accident and started crying. ‘ I’m organising a golf day at Wingham on 8 October,’ she says. ‘T here’s no Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service volunteer group there, but I want to do something.’ A golf day is sure to result in some misty water-coloured memories ... See full story on the WRHS website Just hearing that helicopter coming, you just get the sense that everything is going to be all right Rachel Sutton-Griffith and Family with an AW139 The way we are RescueStory 11 Rescue Magazine WINTER 2017
Rescue Autumn 2017
Rescue Spring 2017