Patient Story - Buttenshaw Family

Patient Rescue – Cathy Buttenshaw recalls

On December 22nd, 1999, when most families were winding down for the year, life changed forever for the Buttenshaw’s. Eldest son William suffered third degree burns to 45% of his body, after trying to light a fire at his home in Bungundarra.

“I was inside with all three kids when I heard William go outside to bounce on the trampoline. He was only gone for five minutes, when suddenly I heard a piercing scream. I thought he had been bitten by a snake, but as I ran outside to see what had happened, I saw something I will never forget – William running down the hill on fire.”

Although only 10 years old, William’s instincts kicked in. “The next thing I saw he was rolling himself down the grassed hill, trying to put out the fire. He then raced up the hill and put himself under the garden hose.”

“I immediately called 000. The ambulance arrived and took him to the Yeppoon Hospital. I met him there with my husband and two younger children.”

“To be honest, I didn’t know how serious the situation was until the doctors told me that the rescue chopper was coming to fly him straight to Rockhampton. As soon as they said the helicopter was on its way, it dawned on me how urgent the situation was.”

William’s airways had been severely burnt and were starting to close over. The doctors in Yeppoon acted quickly, intubating him before RACQ CapRescue arrived.

After being stabilised in Rockhampton, William was flown to Brisbane where he spent three weeks in intensive care in an induced coma and a further three months in hospital.

“It was very traumatic, but we were lucky enough to have the support of not only our family and friends, but also the local community. Everyone rallied behind us, hosting fundraisers to assist with the cost of regular visits to Brisbane for the next six years.”

“If William had not been airlifted by RACQ CapRescue we may not have seen him grow into the strong, resilient, young man he is today. He is now a successful diesel fitter, with a beautiful wife and daughter and has accomplished many things.”

Since the accident, the Buttenshaw family has held RACQ CapRescue in high regard with William becoming a Rescue300 member, Cathy a payroll contributor and volunteer, and daughter Caitlin a staff member.

“18 years after listening to us talk about how RACQ CapRescue saved her brother’s life, my daughter who was two at the time, raised over $8,000 for the Service. She now works with RACQ CapRescue as the Community Fundraising Officer.”

Cathy not only volunteers but also understands just how vital RACQ CapRescue is, “I volunteer at RACQ CapRescue because it’s the least I can do to give back to the Service that saved my son’s life.”