Young Hayden Barret from Oakleigh Station is lucky to be alive after he fell five metres from the top of a grain store and suffered multiple injuries to his arms, face and legs.
A storm was brewing that day at Come by Chance, a small settlement 60 kms from Walgett. The wind had picked up and it was forecast to get stronger.
When 21-year-old Hayden noticed a tarp had lifted from a bin of grain on the neighbouring property where he was working, he decided to try and fix it.
“I climbed up to tie it down but the wind gave the tarp a flick and I lost my footing,” says Hayden. He slipped and fell, landing face down on the compacted dirt five metres below.
Hayden’s mum Margaret came home from work that afternoon and received a call to say her son had been hurt.
“I work as a community nurse at Walgett so when the neighbour said there’d been a nasty accident I wasn’t overly concerned. Accidents happen on stations. Hayden is a sensible lad and he’s been working full time since he was 18.”
But when Margaret and her husband arrived at the station, 15 kms away, they found Hayden in a bad way.
“The worst thing was seeing him in such terrible pain,” says Margaret.
An ambulance was called to take Hayden by road to Walgett and Margaret raced ahead of it.
“I arrived at the hospital and one of the staff said, ‘You don’t want to be here, we’ve got a bad trauma coming in.’ She was talking about Hayden.”
X-rays revealed the shocking extent of Hayden’s compound fractures and dislocations so the RFDS was called to airlift him to Dubbo Base Hospital. Margaret embarked on the three-hour journey by road.
“Driving alone in the dark I kept thinking of all the worst outcomes. Spinal injuries hadn’t been ruled out either and it was hard to keep concentrating on the road.
“When RFDS flight nurse Brendon Kiley called to let me know they’d landed and that Hayden was comfortable it meant so much.”
After emergency surgery in Dubbo, Hayden was then transferred to Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital for further treatment.
“It will be at least six months before he can work again but he’s alive, that’s the main thing,” says Margaret, who is a long-term supporter of the RFDS.
“I love working on the land,” adds Hayden. “As soon as I’m right I’ll be back into it. The ambulance staff who helped me were fantastic and I know we’d never survive out here without the RFDS. The Royal Flying Doctor Service is our lifeline and I’ll always be grateful to them.”