Working in the mining sector obviously comes with risks. Workplace health and safety has improved immensely but the risk is still considered high compared to other jobs.
This proved true for 24-year-old Cori Lee-Brown, who was driving a dump truck on a mine site near Collinsville on May 27 last year when she was injured in a freak accident.
The impact of a 100-tonne boulder being dropped by an excavator into the tray of her dump truck from a six-metre over-height bench caused her truck to be fiercely jolted backwards, its two front wheels lifting off the ground.
Cori remembers the incident happening in slow motion but her head and neck being whipped backwards and forwards in a violent motion was very real. The back pain and head trauma was instantaneous.
After initial treatment by a paramedic on the mine site and transfer to Collinsville hospital, the medical team deemed it necessary for Cori’s injuries to be investigated further due to the high possibility she may have suffered spinal fractures in the accident.
She was airlifted to Mackay by RACQ CQ Rescue to undergo scans to determine the extent of her injuries. The blue and yellow rescue helicopter, with a doctor and Critical Care Paramedic on board, departed base at 1.30pm and had Cori delivered safely to the Mackay Base Hospital for x-rays and further testing by 3.30pm.
“It was a very stressful ordeal to be injured at work like that and I was quite scared but the CQ Rescue helicopter crew’s care was reassuring,” Cori said.
“I remember being secured in a neck brace on the stretcher and just looking up at the chopper roof – it was very noisy but it wasn’t long before the pain medication took hold,” she said.
Fortunately, Cori was cleared of any spinal fractures but was diagnosed with whiplash and soft tissue damage in her neck and back. She still suffers some mild discomfort 10 months after the accident.
Cori realises how important the Mackay-based aeromedical service is to both workers and residents who may be suffering injury or illness in the Bowen Basin region.
“It’s reassuring to know there’s a rescue helicopter available to our community, especially for the people who work within the mining sector if they ever need it,” she said.
“I certainly think it’s an incredibly valuable resource for us and should be supported.”