Family thankful for the chopper that saved Dale
TEARS welled up in her eyes and a lump in her throat made Gail Ryall stutter as she recalled the night she nearly lost her son, Dale, forever.
It was February 4, 2006, and Dale had been involved in a car crash in Grafton.
Gail and her now-husband Alan Ryall were away for the weekend when they got the call no parent ever wants to receive.
Doctors and nurses at Grafton Base Hospital were struggling to stabilise Dale.
He needed to be airlifted to the Princess Alexandra Hospital, but his condition posed significant risks.
"He died four times that day.... he died a total of seven times in the fortnight after the crash, but they revived him each time," Mr Ryall recalled.
Eventually Dale was flown from Grafton to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter.
"We owe the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter and the medical staff of both hospitals for Dale's life," Mrs Ryall said.
"It is because of these wonderful professionals that we still have Dale here today."
In 2007 Mr and Mrs Ryall began fundraising for the Rescue Helicopter, and they haven't looked back since.
Though they haven't tallied up how much they've raised, Mr Ryall said they were just proud to be contributing to the cause.
"We might have only raised enough to keep the chopper in the air for a few hours, but if we didn't raise the funds, that would be a few less hours that the chopper would be operating," he said.
"If it's going to help save someone else's life, it's worth every effort," Mrs Ryall said.
The pair have lost track of how many fundraising events they've organised.
"Our first fundraiser was a wine trip to Cassegrain Winery," Mrs Ryall said.
"We've also run wine trips to Stanthorpe, day trips to Dalmorton, shopping trips to Brisbane, the Music on the Green bowls day, annual charity poker rides, raffles and 100 clubs... and I'm sure there's more," she said.
Dale spent over four weeks in the Princess Alexandra Hospital after the crash, and a further eight months receiving therapy at the Military Hospital at Enoggera.
"Dale still has trouble with some functions, but has been able to carry out studies at university," Mrs Ryall said.
"He is getting married in December and we are very proud of him."
Mrs Ryall said she and her family just wanted to show their appreciation for the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter.
"My son would be dead if it wasn't for the chopper."