That Day

Host: Warrawagine Cattle Co.
Written by Jacinta Mills – Owner, Warrawagine Cattle Company.

It’s the wet season, the days are hot and thunderstorms are rolling in nearly every afternoon with the smell of rain on the wind.


The mustering season is over, most of the crew have gone home for a well deserved break with Christmas just around the corner. The homestead is eerily quiet, something you’re not used to, no choppers flying in and out, no buggies and bikes leaving at early hours for the day ahead, no road trains bellowing down the drive way, just the sound of the generator distantly chugging away.

You’re up nice and early to beat the heat, smoko and thermos in hand out and about checking your routine bore run for the morning. You head back home at mid-day for some lunch and a break during the heat of the day.

Its 43 degrees and its 3pm, the day is starting to cool down, the boys are working night shift and they’re just starting to stir ready for the night ahead. My arvo has begun, being the cook at night. In the kitchen preparing dinner for eight, listening to general chit-chat on the two way between the crew, they are building a new shed for the road trains.

Its now 6pm dinner is nearly ready and I’m in the process of washing up when Davo comes bursting through the door “quick call the RFDS, Dazza is hurt!”. “Shit!” is the first thing that comes to mind, second thing is “Holy crap what did I learn at that first aid course I did three years ago!?”. I followed Davo outside thinking OK maybe Davo is just overreacting and its not really that bad . . . I get to the ute Daz is in a huge amount of pain and is struggling to breath. Shit Davo wasn’t overreacting, then the first aid kicks in – OK so he’s breathing- not well but he is conscious and breathing, that’s a good start, I get the RFDS on the phone, explained what has happened and that the patient is conscious, in a lot of pain, and struggling to breath – “OK on a scale of one to ten what would the patient be at”, “He’s in too much pain to talk” – “OK so fairly high then, is someone willing to give a morphine injection”, “Yep Beno will do it”.

We race back into the cookhouse to the RFDS chest and dig out the morphine and needle “Right Daz I’m going to give you some morphine, this might hurt a bit”. We continuously monitor Daz for any condition change, so far so good, morphine is starting to work, breathing is getting slightly better. We’re keeping in contact with the RFDS just in case of any sudden change, a plane is ready and leaving Meekatharra for Marble Bar. We are getting in the car for the 140 km drive into town, it was too dark for the plane to land at the station and Dazza’s condition wasn’t dire. Driving in, the first 100km is a rough dirt road, every bump Daz lets out a grunt of pain. You’re trying to get there as quick as possible but you cant go fast because its too painful. The morphine has now fully kicked in and the conversation starts rolling, “OK Daz talk to me how you feeling”, “Yeah pretty good, hows the chickens going?” “Chickens? What the hell you on about?” “You know the chickens and the eggs” Yep, that morphine is good stuff.

We finally make it to the bitumen, 40km to go, the morphine was starting to wear off and Dazza’s condition was getting worse he was having trouble breathing and he started going in and out of consciousness. The pedal went down, only five minutes from town – five long minutes to getting Daz some medical attention, we arrive at the nursing post. There’s no hospital in Marble Bar so the lovely nurse meets us at the door, a quick assessment made and Daz is on a bed and wheeled inside/Davo and I were fairly stressed out by this stage as the nurse calmly does his checks, listening and poking and asking questions, on and of the phone to the RFDS giving them regular updates of Dazza’s condition.

He prepares Daz for the flight and gets the call the plane is ten minutes away we put Daz in the back of the troop carrier ambulance and drive out to the airstrip. The plane circles once and then comes into land, we meet the doctors and nurses and they discuss Dazza’s condition, notes are exchanged and he is lifted into the plane and gone within twenty minutes, gone, done, it’s over. By this stage its nearly midnight and Davo and I have a two hour drive home, plenty of time to think about how Dazza was doing. The next day we got a phone call from the hospital informing us on Dazza’s condition: broken ribs, bruised lungs, and a collapsed diaphragm, he will be staying in hospital for a few more days.

Dazza was very lucky that day, if he had come of the quad any harder he may not be here today to tell the story but after many painful coughs and sneezes he is back to his normal antics and avoiding quad bikes like a herd bull on a mustering day.