A MARANOA beef producer whose wife was airlifted to hospital after being crushed by a 400kg steer has had a touching reunion with some of the helicopter crew members who rushed to her rescue. 

Heidi Ross was doing a routine walk through the pens of the couple’s rural property, 75km south-west of Roma, on October 26 when the unexpected happened. 

“A steer knocked me down and then landed on top of my back. I literally couldn’t walk out,” said Heidi, whose recovering well four weeks on from the accident.

“I’m down in the pens every day and the animals have become quite acclimatised to noise and people. It just happened to be a freak accident.”

The Lifeflight SGAS tasked to retrieve injured grazier Heidi Ross from a property south of Roma. IMAGE: Supplied

While Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) paramedics rushed to the scene to begin treatment, the Roma-based LifeFlight Surat Gas Aeromedical Service (SGAS) helicopter was tasked into action. 

“I could hear the ambulance medicos saying they were calling a helicopter to come out and within five minutes I could hear the rotors coming up the hill,” Ross said. 

After pilot David Rockwell landed the aircraft at the property the LifeFlight SGAS medical team, including Critical Care Doctor Gareth Richards, joined the paramedics in treating Ross before she was airlifted to Roma for further medical attention.

The weight of the 400kg animal had fractured several bones of her lower spine, requiring a week of treatment and intensive rehabilitation in Roma Hospital.

From being unable to walk unaided, Ross is now back at home, crediting a combination of rehabilitation, good health and the swift work of LifeFlight’s SGAS crew for her speedy recovery. 

“I was very lucky. It could have been far worse, it’s pretty close to the spinal cord,” she said. 

The LifeFlight SGAS retrieving Heidi Ross from south of Roma in October. IMAGE: LifeFlight

Tasked by Queensland Health, the LifeFlight SGAS helicopter and crew performed the mission as part of the SGAS partners’ commitment to assisting in providing the south west region and beyond, with community aeromedical coverage, by donating 150 flying hours each year.

When the opportunity arose for Ms Ross’ husband Chris Skelton to donate three of their bullocks to the Ray White Rural Roma cattle sale for LifeFlight, he did so without hesitation. 

The bullock auction raised roughly $18,000, after the livestock were bought, donated back and re-sold nine times by other generous Roma graziers and industry supporters at the event last Tuesday (November 22nd).

The impressive sum will be donated to contribute to the new LifeFlight Emergency Response Facility project currently under construction in Roma.


Roma grazier Chris Skelton with the LifeFlight crew (L-R) pilot Russell Procter, paramedic Brad Solomon, critical care doctor Gareth Richards pilot David Rockwell. IMAGE: LifeFlight SGAS 

Mr Skelton was also able to meet some of the crew members who airlifted his wife.

“Heidi and Chris going out of their way to raise money for LifeFlight is amazing,” said LifeFlight SGAS Pilot David Rockwell. 

“I’m impressed that while she is recovering, they are thinking about helping us and the community.

“It’s a great feeling to hear that someone we airlifted is well into her recovery and is helping support LifeFlight’s future.

“The new facility they’re supporting will enable us to respond even faster and allow us to reach people in need even sooner.”

Ms Ross said she and her husband were glad they could give back to such a vital service. 

Construction of the new LifeFlight Emergency Response Facility Roma. IMAGE: LifeFlight SGAS

“I’m very lucky the helicopter was able to come out with just a phone call, and that the crew made me feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible,” she said.

“Aeromedical services in the west are paramount. 

“I want to say a big thank you to LifeFlight SGAS for coming to my aid. We’re very grateful for the services and that we’re able to use them when we need to.” 

With aircraft based in Roma and Toowoomba, the LifeFlight SGAS helicopter service is fully funded by the four SGAS partners. 

Donate to the LifeFlight Emergency Response Facility construction project here: LifeFlight Roma Base Upgrade – LifeFlight

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