Family Visits Rescuers Who Helped Save Ethan's Life

Ethan Watson is a gorgeous, inquisitive and cheeky little kid with a zest for life and playing with his brothers. In what seems quite serendipitous, today he celebrates his 5th birthday with his family, the very same day the Annual Appeal kicks off for the Mackay rescue service which helped save his life nearly three years ago after a horrific accident. 

 Ethan suffered life-threatening injuries in a farm accident at Koumala in 2016 and was airlifted to hospital by RACQ CQ Rescue. Recently, on an incredibly special and emotional day, Ethan and his family, including mum, dad Shane and brothers Curtis and Isaac returned to visit the Mackay rescue helicopter team and deliver a very special message.

“When our lives changed forever you were there and without you, we are sure we wouldn’t have our little boy today,” she told RACQ CQ Rescue pilot Doug White.

Life changed in an instant for the Watson family in July 2016 whilst they were visiting from Brisbane to celebrate Shane’s 40th birthday at his parent’s farm. In a tragic accident, two-year-old Ethan fell from an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) on the farm and suffered critical head injuries.

Ethan had been seated in the front of the farm vehicle with his father and older brother Curtis when the accident happened on the property about 60km south of Mackay. He suffered life threatening head injuries in the fall. His father and the local ambulance officer administered first aid but Ethan was in an altered state of consciousness when the RACQ CQ Rescue helicopter landed at the farm.

He was transferred to the Mackay Base Hospital in a serious condition accompanied by his mother who was then pregnant with Isaac. Overnight, Ethan was transferred to the intensive care unit of Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, his condition critical. 

“Our world stopped in that instant and I still thank our lucky stars every day,” Renee said. “The medical attention the RACQ CQ Rescue team, Queensland Ambulance Service and the 000 operator gave us at the farm we are sure saved Ethan’s life.”

As well as cuts and abrasions, Ethan suffered several fractures to his tiny skull and around 11 small but serious bleeds, including a life-threatening one on the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is the part of the brain that controls important cognitive skills and is, in essence, the “control panel” of a person’s personality and their ability to communicate. He spent two long months in hospital.

“Several nerves on the right side of his brain had been severed so Ethan had to re-learn to use the left side of his brain to move the left side of his body,” Renee said.

His 5th birthday is a wonderful milestone for the Watsons. Ethan this year also started Prep and is making wonderful progress. His mother describes him as a very affectionate, enthusiastic and inquisitive little boy. “He’s a bit of daredevil too – he’s all life and it’s here to be lived. The visit to RACQ CQ Rescue and his 5th birthday are certainly two very special days to celebrate.”

“Our deepest thanks goes to RACQ CQ Rescue. We can never thank you enough for all your help, dedication and support,” she said.

CEO Ian Rowan said the 2019 CQ Rescue Annual Appeal was one of the service’s major fundraisers and it was imperative the region showed their support by donating.

“We are only partially government funded meaning there’s about $5 million each year we need to raise from this community in the form of donations, sponsorship and through events,” Mr Rowan said.

“Our funding model for the service requires significant community investment – without out it we just can’t be the lifeline residents, workers and visitors in Central Queensland deserve, so it’s absolutely imperative they show us their support.” he said.

Mr Rowan said the increasing mission numbers reflected the vital need for the lifesaving service which serviced an area four times the size of Tasmania.

“As the Watson family know well, life can change in a moment and you never know when injury or illness will strike. What would happen if the rescue helicopter wasn’t there to help when you or your family really needed it most?” he said.

Mr Rowan said donations to the annual appeal would help save lives and ease the suffering of many patients through Central and Northern Queensland.

“Community support throughout our 23-year history has been fantastic and we understand the financial pressures on families. but really ask everyone to dig deep and donate to our vital service,” he said.

“If everyone could contribute something to the Annual Appeal, it would help us immensely.”

Donate today at or phone 4998 5232 or visit the fundraising office at 4 Heidi Street, Paget.