Paramedic makes mid-cyclone dash to save injured man

Officer in Charge of the Proserpine Ambulance Station Gavin Cousens was highly commended by his state counterparts during Cyclone Debbie.
Officer in Charge of the Proserpine Ambulance Station Gavin Cousens was highly commended by his state counterparts during Cyclone Debbie. Peter Carruthers

THE call came into the Proserpine Ambulance Station as Cyclone Debbie was unleashing her wrath on the Whitsundays.

A man in Ruge St had been hit by flying debris.

Paramedics talked Peta Smail through what needed to be done as gusts reaching 250km/h tore the Proserpine neighbourhood to pieces.

Fred Quod was suffering from a collapsed lung, broken ribs and a severe laceration to his shoulder - he waited, in pain, for help.

Officer in Charge of the Proserpine Ambulance station Gavin Cousens also waited.

"I was at the station looking out the front door and looking the houses getting destroyed,” he said.

"It was unsafe for me to go and get him.”

But, as soon as the eerie calm of the eye of the storm was overhead he was on the road.

Gavin and Sergeant Mark Flynn of the Proserpine Police managed to reach Fred and deliver him to the Proserpine Hospital before wind from the opposite direction began to blow.

Gavin was humble about his gallant dash to recover a critically injured patient.

"Personally I am just happy that the people in need of care got the care they needed. And that is the main thing whether there is a cyclone or not,” he said.

"The team did a fantastic job. But I don't think it's that far removed - what we did during the cyclone, to what paramedics, the police, fire-fighters and the SES do on a daily basis.

"We all work under difficult situations across the board and this one just happened to be a cyclone.

"I am just really glad the people that were injured got to the hospital as quickly as humanly possible.

"It's a massive team effort,” Gavin said.

Fred was later admitted to Townsville Hospital and the efforts of Gavin on Tuesday, March 28 without a doubt saved his life.

Fred's partner Peta said the couple couldn't thank the emergency services enough.

"We spent three hours on the phone with them, giving us medical direction and keeping us calm until the ambulance officers and the police turned up in the middle of the cyclone risking their own lives to come and help us,” Peta said.

Gavin said after the safe delivery of Fred to the Proserpine Hospital there was one feeling that dominated.

"If there was one overwhelming emotion it was relief,” he said.

Gavin said the patient "had critical inquiries that needed immediate attention”.

"He could he have lasted another 24 hours - I don't know. Have I made a difference? Absolutely,” he said.

Topics:  ambos cyclone debbie gavin cousens proserpine qas tc debbie

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