'I could be a quadriplegic': How heroes saved rider
ANDREW Paddison was lying in dense bush, his neck broken in four places, when he saw the blue and yellow angels appear.
The 45-year-old father-of-three had been mountain biking in with his brother-in-law at Lake Wyaralong, 20km west of Beaudesert, when he came unstuck.
"Riding a track I hadn't ridden before, I went over a drop, before I knew it my head was in the dirt, just excruciating pain," he said.
"I knew straight away I was in real strife."
Four of Mr Paddison's vertebrae were fractured, another was dislocated, but the Sunshine Coast-based LifeFlight Rescue Helicopter crew was able to winch a critical care doctor to the ground and get him safely on board.
Wild weather was closing in when aircrew officer Tony Preston winched Mr Paddison through the trees.
"He was in the hills, pretty much the side of a cliff," he said.
It was two hours between the crash and being winched into the chopper.
"I didn't know how I was going to get out of there and I saw those guys come across the horizon and thought gee, what a relief," Mr Paddison said.
"I was so lucky; I could quite easily be a quadriplegic without proper care.
"For those guys to get me out of there and get me to hospital and give me a fighting chance ... I cant imagine what life would be like without them."
Nearly two years later he is determined to not only repay the cost of his rescue, but to keep funding this vital service, run by people he thinks of as heroes.
"I was quite astounded to hear it's a charity-run organisation," he said.
"I just can't imagine what would happen to people who aren't able to receive the care and the service that they provide.
"For me to have to go to hospital by ground ambulance it would have been torturous.
"To think when people really can't be saved in any other way, and if that service wasn't there, it just makes you wonder."
The average cost of a life-saving helicopter mission is $12,500, and LifeFlight relies on communities to help raise nearly 30% of operating costs.