Windorah shows its heart

Windorah's role in saving Sydney traveller after heart attack revealed

Life & Style
Windorah publicans Ian and Marilyn Simpson pictured with Elaine Seawright, the ambulance driver who took Mr Wiggins to meet the RFDS plane. Pictures - Amanda Simpson.

Windorah publicans Ian and Marilyn Simpson pictured with Elaine Seawright, the ambulance driver who took Mr Wiggins to meet the RFDS plane. Pictures - Amanda Simpson.

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The hospitality and ingenuity that western Queensland is renowned for not only helped saved a tourist's life just after Christmas last year; it also came to the rescue of his partner stranded miles from home.

Aa

The hospitality and ingenuity that western Queensland is renowned for not only helped saved a tourist's life just after Christmas last year; it also came to the rescue of his partner stranded miles from home.

The couple from Parramatta in Sydney's western suburbs were on a driving trip to Birdsville and along the Track over the Christmas holidays, and were lunching at the Thylungra truck stop between Quilpie and Windorah on Boxing Day when everything changed.

"I wasn't feeling good," Paul Wiggins, 66, a criminal defence lawyer, said.

"It was a horrific windy day, so we just packed up and kept going.

"I carry a blood pressure machine and it was jumping around a lot."

When Mr Wiggins and his partner Shannon Scully arrived in Windorah in the late afternoon, his chest pain had increased and they pulled into the town's tiny healthcare clinic.

"Shelley was really onto it," Mr Wiggins said.

Shelley is nurse paramedic Shelley Watts, who performed a blood enzyme test on the spot as well as an ECG, correctly identifying a blocked artery, which meant she was immediately able to administer medication to assist.

As the on-call nurse on Boxing Day, she then stayed with Mr Wiggins until the Royal Flying Doctor Service plane piloted by Nick Tully and with Dr Charles Ellis and nurse Di Dowrick on board, arrived at about 8pm.

Shelley Watts, the nurse paramedic who was on call at Windorah on the Boxing Day afternoon when Sydney-sider Paul Wiggins suffered his heart attack.

Shelley Watts, the nurse paramedic who was on call at Windorah on the Boxing Day afternoon when Sydney-sider Paul Wiggins suffered his heart attack.

"I was 'pursued by panic' but it all worked out," Mr Wiggins, who suffers from angina and who has had a coronary stent inserted, said.

"Shelley was ringing for advice as a result of what was showing, and when the RFDS did a second ECG during the evacuation flight, the doctor showed me how her intervention had already unblocked the artery."

But the story doesn't stop there - while Mr Wiggins was flown to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane and put under the care of Dr Moore and his cardiac team, his partner Ms Scully found herself 1500km from home with no co-driver.

Sharing the story of selflessness in Queensland's Parliament this week, Gregory MP Lachlan Millar said that in the wonderful way of the west Ms Scully found she had new friends in Ian and Marilyn Simpson, the owners of Windorah's Western Star Hotel Motel.

While Marilyn held the fort at the hotel, Ian drove Ms Scully, in her car, to Brisbane to meet up with her partner.

Once Mr Wiggins was released from hospital, after four days in Brisbane, the couple took their time driving back to Parramatta, going via Moree and its restorative hot springs.

"Shannon was a bit concerned about how to manage such a drive (from Windorah)," Mr Wiggins said.

"Ian's a very laconic guy, he just said, leave it with me, I'll fix it. I wasn't really in any position to argue.

"The other option was for me to take a plane back to Windorah and drive - it would have been a nightmare."

Parramatta's Paul Wiggins on a 2017 trip across the Canning Stock Route. Picture supplied.

Parramatta's Paul Wiggins on a 2017 trip across the Canning Stock Route. Picture supplied.

Mr Wiggins has undertaken a number of outback driving trips and said he had always admired the old-fashioned Aussie style of doing things in the west.

"I think there should be further consideration for Ian and Shelley to be recognised in some way - I'm very indebted to them."

Mr Millar said he was pleased to have been asked to place the details on Hansard's public record.

"Mr Wiggins asked that I voice his special gratitude to Shelley Watts, who saved his life, and to the RFDS - all delivered impeccable service with unsurpassed expertise.

"He also thanked Windorah's postmaster and volunteer ambulance driver Elaine (Seawright) and Ian and Marilyn Simpson for their kindness.

"We live in a world where there is much criticism on social media but this story from Windorah shows how decent Australians still treat each other."

The RFDS Charleville base manager of clinical and base operations, Jo Mahony said the retrieval was the perfect example of how in remote locations, collaboration between health care providers and local residents was often key to a positive outcome in an emergency situation.

"Shelley's professionalism, and Ian and Marilyn's willingness to assist made Mr Wiggins' transfer seamless. I think their efforts really show the true character of the people who live in regional and remote Queensland."

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