Hilda Oakley

Australian author and poet

   Oct 27

A Shearer’s Life

Clang!  Clang!  Clang!  The bell rang out from the shearing shed.

The shearers one by one, rolled out of their bunks and headed towards the kitchen mess-room for their regular bacon and eggs on toast breakfast.  Then over to the shearing sheds for their hard day’s work.

This will be a special day for them all.  Today, they are competing for the shed’s gun-shearer.  The man who can shear the most Merino sheep in an eight hour day will become the winner and gets the opportunity to enter into the District and State Sheep Shearing Titles.


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Andy and a couple of the other young farm hands, had their breakfast earlier and had saddled up their horses to round up the sheep for the days shearing.  It was during this round-up that Andy’s horse stumbled in a rabbit burrow causing Andy to be thrown from his horse and fall heavily.

One of the young farm hands rode back to the homestead to get help.

Arriving on the scene first was James, the property owner’s son.  “Don’t move him, he might have back or neck injuries and moving him could be fatal.”

James immediately contacted The Flying Doctor Service for assistance.  James had done his St John Ambulance course and was aware of the problems that can occur with neck and back injuries.

There was a wailing of ambulance sirens in the quiet town of Yass.  Then a short time later, the throbbing beat of a helicopter hovering above which immediately aroused everyone’s attention.

The helicopter was directed to a sheep rearing property just a few kilometres west of town.  There were a group of shearers and farm workers standing around him, not knowing exactly what do, but had the good sense not to move him.

Joe, the paramedic, climbed out of the chopper and rushed over to where Andy lay.  Andy was still conscience but in a lot of pain.  It was bad news though.  After examining him thoroughly, Joe immediately knew this patient needed special care.  He took a back-board stretcher out of the helicopter and placed it beside Andy.

Joe fitted a neck brace on him and then asked for someone in the group to give him some assistance.  James, the station owner’s son rushed forward to help.

“Now place your hands carefully under Andy’s back and when I count to three, we will roll him together onto the back-board, slowly but carefully.”

Andy was then gently moved into the helicopter.  The Sydney Royal North Shore Hospital was notified of Andy’s injuries and also of their estimated time of arrival.

Andy had neck problems and some internal bleeding.  He was rushed to the High-Dependency Unit of the hospital, where the doctors would assess his condition and treat his injuries appropriately.

Hilda Oakley

Copyright © 23.07.2013


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